William Yegon on his way to winning the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef (© Organisers)
Kenya’s William Yegon broke the course record at the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef on Sunday (7), completing the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race in 2:10:31.
Yegon won by more than a minute and his winning time took 29 seconds off the course record set in 2014 by Simon Mukun.
The course record was never under threat in the women’s race, but it was a much closer contest as the top three finished within 30 seconds of one another. Ethiopia’s Motu Megersa came on top, winning in 2:40:46.
Yegon was part of the lead pack that passed through 10 kilometres in 30:02 and he still had five other athletes for company – including compatriots Eliud Magut, Duncan Maiyo and Emmanuel Sikuku – as he reached half way in 1:04:15. Their half-way split suggested the course record of 2:11:00 was living on borrowed time.
Over the course of the following few kilometres, Yegon left behind his remaining opponents and reached 30km without company in 1:30:41. He went on to cover the final 12 kilometres alone and eventually reached the finish line in 2:10:31.
It was Yegon’s fifth marathon victory to date and the fourth-fastest time of his career, just 20 seconds shy of the PB he set in Hefei in 2015.
Magut was unable to match Yegon in the final quarter of the race, but he opened a gap on Maiyo and finished second in 2:11:37. Maiyo was third in 2:14:04.
“I’m really happy to have won here, and to have set a course record in the process,” said the 34-year-old. “I would have loved to go under 2:10; maybe next year.”
By contrast, the top four athletes in the women’s race ran alongside one another up until the final few kilometres.
Defending champion Jane Kiptoo was joined by fellow Kenyan Ruth Wanjiru and Ethiopian duo Motu Megersa and Alem Ourge in the lead quartet. They passed 10km in 37:59 and reached the half-way point in 1:21:00, making it clear that the course record of 2:32:34 was safe for another year at least.
The four women were still running stride for stride as they entered the final four kilometres, but it was Megersa who proved to have the stronger finish, forging ahead to win in 2:40:46.
The former steeplechase specialist – who finished fourth in that event at the 2011 World Youth Championships – was more than seven minutes shy of her PB in Geneva, but it was her first marathon victory to date.
Wanjiru took second place in 2:41:09 while Kiptoo crossed the line six seconds later. Ourge was a further 22 seconds in arrears.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF