Vivian Kiplagat wins the Mexico City Marathon (© Victah Sailer)
Vivian Kiplagat broke the women’s race record at the 37th Telcel Mexico City Marathon, while Duncan Maiyo’s victory in the men’s race made it a Kenyan double at the IAAF Gold Label event on Sunday (25).
Kiplagat, 31, ran the second half of the race 10 minutes faster than the first to cross the finish line in 2:33:27, taking almost three minutes off the race record of 2:36:16 set by Peru’s Pan American Games champion Gladys Tejeda in 2017.
Duncan Maiyo slowed down significantly in the second half, but his lead was good enough to secure victory in 2:12:50, two minutes shy of the 2:10:38 race record established by his compatriot Titus Ekiru.
With about 13C heat and 80% humidity at the start, Mexico’s Fabiola Pérez led the group through the first 5km in a pedestrian 20:25. The group of four Kenyan and four Ethiopian women took over and hit 10km in 39:40. By the time they reached the halfway mark, covered in 1:21:43, the group had shrunk to six.
Kiplagat and Paskalia Kipkoech reached the 25km point with a three-second lead over the chase pack of four women and gradually increased their leading margin. The former launched her attack at about 36km and Pamela Rotich could not respond.
Kiplagat, a two-time winner at the Milan Marathon, became the first Kenyan woman to win this race since 2011, crossing the line in 2:33:27. Kipkoech also finished inside the previous record in second place with 2:34:09. Rotich, who finished fifth last year, completed the all-Kenyan podium with 2:38:14.
In the men’s race, Kenya’s Mathew Kisorio, the only sub-2:05 man in the field, sped to the front early on and set a daring pace for a marathon contested at 2,240m above sea level.
With the course going downhill for the first eight kilometres, Kisorio covered the first 5km in 14:33, eight seconds ahead of Duncan Maiyo. By 10km, Maiyo had closed the gap to three seconds, 29:25 to 29:28, and remained in close contact at 15km (44:44 to 44:53).
Kisorio kept up the pressure and hit the halfway mark on Reforma Avenue in 1:03:59 with a 32-second gap on Maiyo. The chase group, meanwhile, was 2:08 adrift.
But the fast pace eventually took its toll on Kisorio as he slowed down significantly at about 30km. With the clock reading 1:39:20, Maiyo caught up with the long-time leader and Kisorio abandoned the race soon after.
More than three minutes ahead of the chase pack, Maiyo cruised to his victory in 2:12:50. It was his first marathon triumph since 2016, his best season when he twice bettered 2:10, including his lifetime best of 2:09:25.
Ethiopia’s Girmay Birhanu (2:16:14) and Eritrea’s Amanuel Mesel (2:16:28) completed the podium.
Both winners were rewarded with 550,000 Mexican pesos (about $27,000).
With a new and faster course, the only IAAF Gold Label marathon in Latin America drew about 25,000 runners.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF
In historic first, race day air quality measured
Sunday's races also witnessed another important first.
Race organisers teamed with the IAAF, air quality monitoring device manufacturer Kunak and SEDEMA, the regional environment ministry for Mexico City, to measure air quality during a road race for the first time.
In January, local authorities installed an air quality monitoring device at the athletics track at the Mexican Olympic Sports Center (CDOM) in Mexico City, the fourth city in the IAAF pilot project that will eventually link 1000 IAAF-certified tracks around the world. Among the objectives of the project are to create a real-time air quality database with global coverage, to work with local and national governments to better understand the effects of air quality on the quality of life in communities and to study the correlation of air quality on the performance of athletes.
Building upon that initial collaboration, Kunak and SEDEMA have embarked on co-location studies in the Mexican capital with the set-up of another monitoring station, and this weekend, for the first time ever, anywhere, measured the air quality of an entire marathon route as the event was going on.
Luis Eduardo Gonzalez, a local professional cyclist, rode the entire length of the course just ahead of the elite group with a mobile measuring unit, collecting data on the air runners were breathing throughout the race. The same monitoring task was carried out on the course on Saturday morning with a unit mounted on the roof of a car, providing an opportunity to compare the air quality in two very different scenarios.
The project also involved monitoring the conditions at the finish line at Mexico City's central Zocalo square. A temporary monitoring station was installed in the square where data was collected throughout the week leading up to the race, providing more references for study. Kunak's monitors measured heat stress, nitrogen dioxide, black carbon and other particles.
“As a result of this environment and air quality mapping – with the highest resolution that the technologies facilitate nowadays – and the research study we will conduct, we aim to gain insights on what the IAAF can do to protect athletes from the negative effects of air pollution, which will also benefit the wider community, in fact anyone who exercises,” said Miguel Escribano, Business Development Manager at Kunak Technologies.