Kenyan marathon runner Marius Kipserem (© AFP / Getty Images)
Kenya’s Marius Kipserem and Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh smashed their PBs to secure victories at the inaugural ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon on Friday (7).
In a close race, Kipserem won in 2:04:04 to take more than two minutes off the PB he set when winning the 2016 Rotterdam Marathon, moving him to 12th on the world all-time list.
During the week in which his recent world half marathon record was ratified, compatriot Abraham Kiptum finished second in 2:04:16 to also enter the top 20 on the world all-time list.
Yeshaneh, meanwhile, won the women’s race in 2:20:16 to finish comfortably ahead of Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba, who clocked 2:20:54. As was the case in the men’s race, the top two finishers set lifetime bests.
Kipserem holds off Kiptum
A sizeable lead pack formed early on as seven men passed through 10 kilometres in 29:31. Their pace was already well inside 2:05 schedule but it dropped slightly in the second quarter as the leaders, now down to six men, reached half way in 1:02:34.
By the 30-kilometre point, which was reached in 1:28:42, the lead pack had halved as Kipserem, Kiptum and Ethiopia’s Dejene Debela were the only men left in contention. Debela was unable to hold on for much longer, leaving the Kenyan duo to contest for the win.
It was only in the closing stages that Kipserem was finally able to open up a gap on Kiptum, pulling ahead to win by 12 seconds in 2:04:04.
In his first race since clocking a world half marathon record of 58:18, Kiptum’s 2:04:16 clocking took 70 seconds off the PB he set at last year’s Amsterdam Marathon.
Debela was a distant third in 2:07:06 but shaved four seconds off his lifetime best.
“I feel very good and happy because I set a personal best today,” said Kipserem. “The route was perfect and it was great weather.”
Yeshaneh makes successful marathon return
Yeshaneh had made a couple of attempts at the marathon earlier in her career, but hadn’t contested a 26.2-mile race since setting a PB of 2:33:10 in Milan back in 2013.
Having since recorded times of 14:41.58 for 5000m and an Ethiopian record of 1:05:46 for the half marathon, the 28-year-old had high expectations for what was her first marathon in five-and-a-half years.
Along with Chumba, Yeshaneh was joined by compatriots Gelete Burka and Chaltu Tafa in the opening stages, passing 10 kilometres in 33:14 before reaching half way in 1:10:13.
Tafa was the first of those to drop back. Burka stuck with Yeshaneh and Chumba through 30 kilometres, reached in 1:40:12, but then also began to fade, leaving Yeshaneh and Chumba to contest for the victory.
Yeshaneh forged ahead with a few kilometres remaining and Chumba was unable to respond as the Ethiopian went on to win in 2:20:16. In second, Chumba’s 2:20:54 PB is the fastest performance this year by an Asian woman.
Burka, who set a marathon PB of 2:20:45 in January and a half marathon PB of 1:06:11 just six weeks ago, finished third in 2:24:07.
“I’m pleased with my result and personal best,” said Yeshaneh. “It’s my first time in Abu Dhabi and I was very happy with the route of the marathon.”
Richard Kimunyan and Abeba Semanew took top honours in the 10km races that were held alongside the marathon, clocking 28:21 and 32:40 respectively.
Across the four races being held in Abu Dhabi – marathon, 10km, 5km and 2.5km – more than 10,000 runners took part and were able to take in the capital’s iconic landmarks including Emirates Heritage Village and Qasr Al Hosn.
“The results of ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon exceeded expectations, both in terms of the number of runners and the amazing records achieved today,” said race director Andrea Trabuio. “We are very optimistic about the next edition.”
Organisers for the IAAF
1 Marius Kipserem (KEN) 2:04:04
2 Abraham Kiptum (KEN) 2:04:16
3 Dejene Debela (ETH) 2:07:06
4 Thomas Rono (KEN) 2:07:12
5 Stanley Biwott (KEN) 2:09:18
1 Ababel Yeshaneh (ETH) 2:20:16
2 Eunice Chumba (BRN) 2:20:54
3 Gelete Burka (ETH) 2:24:07
4 Chaltu Tafa (ETH) 2:25:09
5 Caroline Kilel (KEN) 2:29:14