Dominant performance by Ruth Chepngetich in Istanbul (© Organisers)
Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich stormed to a Turkish all-comers record at the 40th Vodafone Istanbul Marathon on Sunday (11), clocking 2:18:35 at this IAAF Gold Label Road Race. Felix Kimutai made it a Kenyan double with his 2:09:57 victory in the men’s race, also the fastest time ever run on Turkish soil.
With a 2:22 pace initially in mind to try breaking the 2:22:36 race record she set in her debut last year, Chepngetich surprised organisers at Saturday’s technical meeting when the defending champion asked that intermediate times be calculated for a sub-2:19 run. Having noted those, the 24-year-old went in pursuit of exactly what she targeted.
Leading from the gun, Chepngetich opened her bid with a 16:13 opening five kilometres, already four seconds ahead of her compatriot Margaret Agai, with Fatuma Sado of Ethiopia following behind closely. While Agai and Sado did not attempt to maintain the pace, Chepngetjch reached the 10 kilometres mark in 31:59. Agai was 30 seconds behind at that point, with Sado another 27 seconds adrift with Ethiopian Zerfie Limeneh on her shoulder.
Chepngetich confidently passed the 15-kilometres marker in 48:15 before reaching the halfway in 1:08:22, ahead of world record pace. She increased the gap to nearly three minutes at 30 kilometres where she passed at 1:37:42, and cruised onwards to her 2:18:35 performance to end the day in a tie as the seventh fastest women’s marathoner of all-time.
Agai was a distant second in 2:25:04 with Sado third in 2:31:05.
The men’s race had a completely different story.
Nine men were till in contention when the midway point was reached in 1:04:06: defending champion Abraham Kiprotich of France and Kenyan Jacob Kendagor, last year’s runner-up; Kenyans Felix Kimutai and Joel Kemboi Kimurer; Abdi Ibrahim Abdo of Bahrain; and Getu Feleke of Ethiopia.
But Kimutai pulled off a surprise when he pulled away in the waning kilometres en route to his decisive 2:09:57 victory. Abdo followed in 2:10:37, with Kiprotich taking third place in 2:10:55.
Organisers for the IAAF
El Aaraby breaks men's course records in Beirut
A course record of 2:10:41 by Mohamed Reda El Aaraby of Morocco proved the standout performance at the BLOM Bank Beirut Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label road race, on Sunday morning (11).
The women’s race also saw some swift performances, with Ethiopia’s Medina Deme Armino taking victory in 2:29:31 ahead of Nazret Weldu Gebrehiwet, who clocked an Eritrean record of 2:29:48 in second.
But it was El Aaraby who stole the show, the 28-year-old surprising the East African contingent with his surge early in the race, taking full advantage of the hesitancy in the pack among his rivals, with several leading contenders instead keeping their eyes trained on Wesley Korir, the 2012 Boston Marathon champion who was running his first marathon since April 2017.
After struggling with injuries on the build-up, Korir was far from his best, coming home seventh in 2:14:18, but given his shortened preparation the 35-year-old was upbeat about performance.
“My goal was to mix with competition, feel how it feels to run a marathon again,” said Korir. “I love that pain, I missed that pain and now that I felt it, it’s given me a good start for the second phase of my running career. Watch out: Wesley’s back.”
But on this day it was an athlete seven years his junior, who arrived in Beirut just five weeks after clocking a PB of 2:09:16 at the Chicago Marathon, who reigned supreme.
El Aaraby had come to Beirut primarily for the World Military Championship, run in conjunction with this year’s race, and as such he was not on the radar of many elite runners. As a result, when he pushed the pace along shortly after 10 kilometres, they let him go.
El Aaraby ran behind one of the pacemakers until halfway, which he reached in 1:05:07, then ran most of the second half alone. Back in the pack, Korir’s rivals were still watching his every move, paying him more respect than he wanted as the Moroccan out front built an 88-second lead in the first half.
“I think the biggest problem was their confidence – they didn’t have it,” said Korir. “When we were at 25K I told them, ‘I’m not the Wesley Korir of 2012: go, there’s a guy in front.’”
Up front, El Aaraby was churning out a relentless pace on the streets of the Lebanese capital, reaching 30 kilometres in 1:32:33, at which point he had a lead of 1:36 on his nearest pursuers, Felix Chemonges of Uganda and Deresa Geleta of Ethiopia.
His advantage was closed down in the final miles, but El Aaraby was still all alone at the finish, hitting it in 2:10:41 to take a single second off the event record set by Dominic Rutto of Kenya in 2017.
“It’s a big result for me to be first in the World Military Championship and to break the course record,” said El Aaraby. “This result came after hard training and big preparation.”
Chemonges claimed the runner-up spot in 2:11:57, with Geleta holding on for third in 2:12:33.
The women’s race was a much closer contest, with Medina Deme Armino waiting until the closing miles before exerting her superiority, the Ethiopian carving four minutes off her previous best to take victory in 2:29:31.
“I’m really happy because my best was 2:33 and that’s really something – to improve that much,” said Armino, whose time was the third fastest ever run at the race and less than a minute outside the course record of 2:28:38, set last year by Eunice Chumba. “The weather was good, and next time I’d like to break the course record and come back even stronger.”
Nazret Weldu Gebrehiwet finished a strong second in 2:29:48, which means the former track runner now holds the Eritrean records in the 400m, 10,000m and marathon – a rare combination.
“It’s a good day,” said Weldu. “In my first marathon, the picture in my mind of today will be one that helps me work hard in the future.”
Ethiopia’s Selamawit Getnet Tsegaw came home third in 2:31:42.
On a day when 48,000 runners took to the streets across the various races, Iran’s Mohammad Jafar Muradi claimed the men’s half marathon title in 1:07:00, with the women’s crown staying in Lebanon through hometown hero Chrine Njeim, who won in 1:20:09.
Organisers for the IAAF
Debutante Masai breaks course record at Hefei Marathon
Kenya’s Magdalene Masai emerged victorious from a three-woman rivalry to break the course record at the Hefei International Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label road race, on Sunday (11) in her debut over the distance.
The 24-year-old Masai, who owns a half marathon personal best of 1:07:31, clocked a winning mark of 2:28:20 under cool and cloudy weather conditions, improving the course record set by countrywoman Grace Momanyi two years ago by six seconds.
Local runner Li Dan took a brave early solitary lead soon after the gun, hitting the 10km mark in 35:05 and 15 kilometres in 52:55 with her advantage growing to nearly a minute. But a chasing group comprising of six African runners gradually reeled her in after 20km, and the 23-year-old Li, a 2:33:37 performer, was finally caught at 24 kilometres.
When the leaders passed the water tables at 30 kilometres only three runners were left in contention of the title, including Masai, Kenya’s Racheal Mutgaa and Ethiopian pre-event favourite Aberash Fayesa, who was the fastest entrant with a career best of 2:27:04.
Fayesa was the first to drop back before 40 kilometres. Masai pulled clear from Mutgaa a kilometre later and the in-form Kenyan never looked back until crossing the line in style.
Mutgaa finished second in 2:28:37, improving her lifetime best by more than one-and-a-half minutes. Fayesa finished third in 2:29:03.
The men’s race also saw a surprising winner as Kenya’s Leonard Langat cut 3:20 from his PB to claim the title with in 2:10:48.
The 28-year-old hid himself patiently in the first half of the race, passing 10 kilometres in 30:45 and 20 in 1:01:19 in the lead pack. After the leading group of five passed 30 kilometres in 1:31:17, Langat launched his powerful charge, and only Kenya’s Hillary Kipkoech Bett managed to keep up.
The duo remained together for another five kilometres before Langat broke away to wrap up his convincing victory.
The relatively unheralded Bett held off Ethiopian Lencho Tesfaye in the final stretch to finish second in 2:11:38. The 21-year-old Tesfaye trailed seven seconds behind to finished third in his marathon debut.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF
Misoi impresses at Athens Marathon
Kenyans Brimin Misoi and Shelmith Muriuki won the 36th edition of the Athens Marathon in testing conditions on Sunday (11).
In warm weather with temperatures rising above 20 C, Misoi took the lead early and ran alone for almost 15 kilometres. The 29-year-old clocked a strong 2:10:56, the third fastest time ever on the tough, original marathon course from the town of Marathon to Athens. The tall Kenyan ran a personal best for good measure and was almost two minutes ahead of Workneh Tiruneh, who finished second in a personal best of 2:12:52. Fellow-Ethiopian Mengist Azmeraw Gereme took third in 2:13:20.
In the women's race, Muriuki finished with 2:36:46 inside the old Panathinaic Olympic Stadium. Drawing deep upon her reserves, the 34-year-old was rewarded with a personal best. Rebby Koech of Kenya was second with 2:38:54. Eleftheria Petroulaki of Greece gave spectators further cause for celebration by finishing third in her debut marathon with 2:46:09, having won the Athens Half Marathon on 18 March.
A record 18,750 runners had entered the race's 36th edition. Adding shorter races held in conjunction with the main event some 55,000 runners involved. While the Athens race is usually a day to celebrate distance running, the mood was different as the runners reached 12 kilometres and for the next four as they passed through the small town of Mati, one of the areas devastated by fire in late July. The scorched earth on either side of the road was a poignant reminder of the loss of life but there was also hope for regeneration marked by the marathon’s launch of the “Runners’ Forest” project. Runners were given a green bandana or headband to wear as part of the project to raise funds for tree planting along this section of the course.
Organisers for the IAAF