News18 Apr 1998

Tegla Loroupe sets new world marathon best in Rotterdam


Loroupe Breaks oldest world marathon mark
By Phil Minshull

The women’s world marathon best of 2:21:06 set in 1985 by Norway’s Ingrid Kristiansen had endured longer than any other mark, men’s or women’s, over the classic 26.2 mile distance until Sunday in Rotterdam when it was consigned to history by Kenya’s Tegla Loroupe.

Loroupe, the reigning IAAF world half marathon champion, ran 2:20:47 to slice 19 seconds from the legendary Norwegian’s formidable mark, which was only two days shy of celebrating its 13th anniversary at the top of the rankings.

The diminutive Loroupe, who stands only 153 cm tall and weighs just 40 kgs, became the third world record runner in the race’s 18-year history, following in the footsteps of Portugal’s Carlos Lopes and Ethiopia’s Belayneh Dinsamo who set men’s world best marks in the Dutch port during the 1980s.

She has nurtured the ambition for 12 months of adding her name to the illustrious list of Kenyan distance running record breakers.

"There’s been two world records here by the men," Loroupe said. "So I told Jos Hermans (the Rotterdam elite race director) that I intended to come here and break a world record for the women."

Loroupe said that Kristiansen had inspired her to go into new territory. "In 1996, I met Ingrid and she said I could be the one to break her world record."

Loroupe passed the halfway point in 70:11, only two seconds outside Kristiansen’s world record schedule, but a slight breeze in the next nine kilometres put her nearly a minute outside her target time.

She picked up the pace between 30 and 35 kilometres to almost get back on track and in the final seven kilometres demonstrated her renowned fast marathon finish.

"When you want something you have to go for it and it was only in the last two kilometres that I was a little tired," Loroupe said, $150,000 richer after scooping the world record bonus on offer in Rotterdam.

Second-placed Junko Asari, of Japan, crossed the line in 2:26:11, missing her personal best by one second. The 1993 world champion still had nearly two kilometres of Rotterdam road to cover when Loroupe was receiving the plaudits.

Spain’s Fabian Roncero won the men’s race in 2:07:26.

Roncero sped to victory in the fastest time of the year, the tenth fastest of all-time and he set a new Spanish national record into the bargain. He was also on course for much of the race to break the men’s world best of 2:06:50, which has stood since 1988 to Dinsamo, until disaster struck three kilometres from home.

A leading group of nine, including three pacemakers, went through the halfway point in 63:09, 11 seconds inside the pace required for a new world best. Roncero broke away at the 25-km point and immediately opened up a huge gap on his rivals.

Five kilometres from the finish the 27-year-old runner from Madrid was still poised to become the first man to break 2:06 but severe cramps in his right hamstring stopped him dead in his tracks at the 39 km point.

He stretched to ease his tight muscle and had to repeat the treatment again a kilometre further down the road but recovered to struggle to the finish. South Korea’s Bong Ju-Lee, the 1996 Olympic silver medallist, closed considerably on his Spanish rival in the last few kilometres to finish second in a new national record of 2:07:44.

Italy’s Danilo Goffi was third in a new personal best of 2:08.33.

Pre-race favourites Portugal’s Domingos Castro, the 1997 Rotterdam winner, and Kenya’s Eric Kimaiyo both dropped out at the 27 kilometre point.

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