Benjamin Kiprotich beats Isaac Kiprono in Padua (© Lorenzo Sampaolo)
Padua, ItalyKenyan Benjamin Kiprotich in the men’s race and Italian Tiziana Alagia on the women side took the honours at today's Sant’Antonio Marathon from Vedelago to Padua in a sunny and warm day.
Benyamin Kiprotich ran 2:10:43 in his debut over the 42.195 km distance, while Alagia captured the win in 2:32:02 despite being on the verge of withdrawing from the race before halfway due to some stomach problems.
The Kenyan pacemakers Benjamin Pseret, Simon Bor and Matthew Sigei set a regular early pace in the first kilometres and led over the group which included the Italians Giacomo Leone the former New York winner, Danilo Goffi, Francesco Ingargiola and Giovanni Ruggiero.
Favourite dropped early
Their pacemaking task was nearly perfect according to the pre-event plans (30:50 at the 10 km; 46:23 at the 15 km). At the 21 km Simon Bor finished his task. Benjamin Pseret and the favourite Giacomo Leone were dropped and lost the ground on the group and withdrew after 30km..
Sigei was caught by a Kenyan trio formed by Francis Kipketer, Isaac Kiprono and Benjamin Kiptarus at half marathon (1:05:18). The leading top runners were running at a 2:10 pace.
Goffi, Ingargiola and Ruggiero managed to keep the pace with the Kenyans in a ten man leading group at that point but Sigei, Kiprono, Kipketer, Kiptarus and Kiprotich increased the pace and pulled clear leaving just Goffi about ten metres behind.
When Sigei accomplished his pacemaking task at the 30 km point in the race (1:32:31), four kenyans (Kiprono, Kiptarus, Kiptarus and Kipketer) remained in contention for the final victory.
Francis Kipketer, who set his PB of 2:11:04 in Prague in 2002 and Isaac Kiprono, who finished second in the Venice Marathon in 2:10:09 and set his PB of 2:09:59 in Rotterdam in 2001, passed the 33 km at the front in 1:41:53.
However, the pace then slightly slowed down and the race became tactical (the split between the 33 and the 34 km was run in 3:13).
Kiprono increased the pace by 35km (1:48:10) and Kiprotich was slightly dropped from the leading trio. Goffi for a while closed the gap on the Kenyans to 12 seconds but then lost the ground again and was 18 seconds adrift with five km to go, while Kiprotich managed to return to the lead and remained in contention for the final win.
Kiprono tried to launch his attack with 2 km to go and initially built up a metres lead over Kiptarus, Kiprotich and Kipketer but in a downhill section in the final part of the race (with 2 km to go) Kiprono was unexpectedly was caught by Kipketer and Kiprotich.
Final assault brings Kiprotich home
Finally, Kiprotich launched a devastating attack in the final metres of the race, in the big Square Prato della Valle, with Kiprono finishing just two seconds behind Kiprotich who won in 2:10:42.
Third was Francis Kipketer with 2:10:52 ahead of Benjamin Kiptarus (2:10:56) and the Italian Danilo Goffi, who bounced back from his disappointment at the Turin Marathon where he dropped out.
“As I ran my first ever marathon, I did not expect to win today. It was a surprise for me to keep the pace with the leading group with four km to go, so I realised the win was in my hands only in the final 50 metres of the race”, said a delighed Benjamin Kiprotich after the race.
Women’s race -
Tiziana Alagia backed-up her recent win in the Stramilano Half Marathon with a first place in Padua in 2:32:02 ahead of the 20-year-old Kenyan Hellen Cherono who led for most of the race but faded in the final kilometres.
Cherono started at a very fast pace and took a lead of 15 seconds (by 10km) over Alagia and the Ethiopian Seboka Mulu. The Kenyan who recently won the Villa Lagarina half marathon in 1:10:32, ran the first 10 km in 35:24.
She increased the lead to 30 seconds at the 18 km and ran a 1:14:27 split at the half marathon, inside the 2:30 barrier. Her gap over Alagia was about 1:20 at the 25 km and she seemed well in control of the race. Behind them an interesting battle for the third place between Mulu and the Spaniard Dolores Pulido was unfolding.
At the 40 km Cherono began to fade and Alagia closed the gap on her. The 31-year-old Italian caught up with a struggling Cherono with 2 km to go and captured a surprising victory in 2:32:02. Cherono, who lost about two minutes on Alagia in the final 2 km, finished runner-up in 2:34:21. Third was Dolores Pulido in 2:36:43.
“I had a very difficult 2003 season and I lost six months. Everything seemed lost, but I was determined to start running again this winter, although an injury prevented me from training for three weeks between January and February,” said Alagia.
”Today I had to stop at the 17 km due to stomach problems but I did not want to disappoint my parents who came here to support me, so I decided to continue. I was in trouble but when I saw that I was closing the gap on Cherono I realized that I could win. I want to thank the spectactors who supported me along the course. I am happy with my win today, although there are other Italian athletes who have more chances to go to the Olympic Games than me. Ornella Ferrara, Bruna Genovese may go the trip to Athens after their results in Rome and after so many injuries Maria Guida is the favourite for a third spot if she runs inside the IAAF qualifying standard of 2:37”, said Alagia.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1 Benjamin Kiprotich (Kenya) 2:10:43
2 Isaac Kiprono (Kenya) 2:10:46
3 Francis Kipketer (Kenya) 2:10:52
4 Benjamin Kiptarus (Kenya) 2:10:56
5 Danilo Goffi (Italy) 2:11:06
6 Giovanni Ruggiero (Italy) 2:13:23
7 Francesco Ingargiola (Italy) 2:13:36
8 Mathias Ntwalikura (Rwanda) 2:17:16
1 Tiziana Alagia (Italy) 2:32:02
2 Hellen Cherono (Kenya) 2:34:21
3 Dolores Pulido (Spain) 2:36:43
4 Martha Tenorio (Ecuador) 2:38:07
5 Seboka Mulu (Ethiopia) 2:38:30