Eunice Chumba wins the Rock’n’Roll Lisbon Half Marathon (© Organisers / Kevin Morris)
Unusually warm conditions and strong winds put paid to any hopes of course records or big PBs at the Rock’n’Roll Lisbon Marathon EDP and Rock’n’Roll Lisbon Half Marathon Santander Totta RTP on Sunday (15), but the IAAF Gold Label road races were still highly competitive.
Much of the pre-race focus for the half marathon had been on the participation of world marathon champion Rose Chelimo, but the 28-year-old was competing off the back of just a few weeks of training and was ultimately beaten by compatriot Eunice Chumba.
“I had a long rest after the World Championships and I didn’t expect to run faster today,” said Chelimo, who finished third in 1:09:48, crossing the line exactly one minute after Chumba.
Having covered 10 kilometres in 32:21, Chelimo shared the lead with Chumba and Visiline Jepkesho into the latter stages of the race. It was only in the final five kilometres that the group started to break up. On a part of the course which involves a long uphill followed by a fast downhill section, Chelimo dropped back from her two opponents while Chumba proved to be the strongest and crossed the line in 1:08:48.
Jepkesho finished second in 1:09:31 with Chelimo a further 17 seconds in arrears.
“This was a thought course, especially the last few kilometers,” said Chumba, who set an Asian record of 1:06:11 last month when winning in Copenhagen. “I couldn’t do better because of the wind and the hot weather conditions.”
European half marathon champion Sara Moreira was the top Portuguese finisher, placing sixth in 1:13:29.
The men’s race played out in a similar fashion with three athletes running together into the second half of the race before the big changes happened in the closing stages.
Eritrea’s Goitom Kifle and Ethiopian duo Birhan Nebebew and Tadu Abate covered the first 10 kilometres in 28:36.
But it was 23-year-old Nebebew, making his half marathon debut, who had the strongest finish and he went on to open up a 12-second gap on Kifle, winning in 1:02:02 to secure his first victory in a race of any type since the 2014 Cross de l’Acier.
“This is my first time in Lisbon,” said Nebebew. “I’m happy with this win against strong competitors. The weather was very hot.”
Abate finished third in 1:02:20, eight seconds behind Kifle. National 5000m champion Samuel Barata was the top Portuguese finisher, placing sixth in 1:05:13.
Chepchirchir retains marathon title
Sarah Chepchirchir succeeded in defending her marathon title, but the weather prevented her from improving on her course record from last year.
The 33-year-old, who earlier this year won the Tokyo Marathon in 2:19:47, reached the half-way point in 1:12:48. But with the temperatures rising, she sensibly controlled her effort in the second half and finished in 2:27:57 to win by 49 seconds from Ethiopia’s Godfay Abera.
“I expected to improve on the previous course record [2:24:13], but it was impossible in these conditions,” said Chepchirchir. “But I’m very happy to have won the race for the second consecutive year.”
Despite struggling in the final stages, Ethiopia’s Sichala Kumeshi held on to third place in 2:38:52. In fourth, Doroteia Peixoto was the top Portuguese finisher, earning the national title in the process.
In the men’s race, Kenya’s Ishhimael Bushendich Chemtan and Daniel Kiprop Limo had a 41-second advantage over Bahrain’s El Hassan Elabassi at the half way stage. Limo, however, was unable to maintain that pace in the second half, while Elabassi closed in on Chemtan and almost took the lead at 40 kilometres.
But Chemtan had saved enough to hold off the Bahraini runner and won in 2:10:51 with Elabassi finishing second in 2:10:57.
“I’m happy with this victory, even though I expected to finish with a better performance,” said Chemtan. “But today was very hot and the things were very difficult. When I saw he was near me, I made the last effort to run harder by that time.”
A struggling Limo crossed the line more than four-and-a-half minutes after Elabassi, taking third place in 2:15:30. Seventh-place finisher Bruno Paixão earned the Portuguese title with a time of 2:26:24.
António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF