Mosinet Geremew (© Getty Images)
Joan Chelimo Melly and Mosinet Geremew both broke the course records to triumph at the Seoul Marathon, a World Athletics Elite Platinum Label road race, on Sunday (17).
Ethiopia’s world silver medallist Geremew saw off the challenge of his compatriot Herpasa Negasa and Brazil’s Daniel do Nascimento to win the men’s race in 2:04:43, while Romania’s Melly made a breakthrough to win the women’s contest in 2:18:04 ahead of Ethiopia’s Sutume Asefa Kebede and Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba.
Both eventual winners managed to pull away from their rivals over the final couple of kilometres and keep them at bay, but it remained a fight to the finish. Negasa was just six seconds behind Geremew, with Do Nascimento a further two seconds back in a South American record, and Kebede was eight seconds behind Melly, with those five athletes all finishing inside the previous respective course records of 2:05:13 and 2:19:51.
Geremew, Negasa and Do Nascimento had been part of a 19-strong group that passed 5km in 14:42 and 10km in 29:14. By 20km that pack had 14 members, with 58:43 on the clock. Over the next 10km, three runners were dropped, with Geremew, Negasa and Do Nascimento among those to the fore along with Kenya’s Elisha Kipchirchir Rotich, Philemon Rono and Mark Korir (1:28:41). Rotich, last year’s Paris Marathon winner and the 2019 runner-up in Seoul, dropped out a short while later, while Geremew, Negasa and Do Nascimento began to break away, with the Brazilian Olympian pushing the pace.
Geremew and Negasa then made a move and looked to be leaving Do Nascimento behind, with a six-second gap, 1:43:31 to 1:43:37, at 35km and Korir and Rono another eight seconds back.
But Do Nascimento wasn’t giving up and rejoined the leaders to trail by just a few strides as 40km was passed in 1:58:27.
It was London and Chicago runner-up Geremew who was strongest in the closing stages and he held off his challengers to return to winning ways after being unable to finish the Tokyo Marathon earlier this year.
Negasa, who was second in Dubai in 2019, claimed another runner-up spot in 2:04:49, while Do Nascimento improved Ronaldo da Costa’s South American record of 2:06:05 – a world record when it was run in 1998 – by more than a minute, finishing third in 2:04:51.
Korir was a couple of minutes back in fourth in 2:06:54, one second ahead of Moses Kibet.
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In the women’s race, Melly – who has a half marathon best of 1:05:04 and was contesting her fourth marathon – was among the nine runners who passed 5km in 16:40 and 10km in 32:58. The lead group was down to six at 15km (49:30) and Melly had broken away with 2019 Beijing Marathon winner Kebede, Chumba and Kenya’s Celestine Chepchirchir by 20km (1:05:44).
That quartet continued to race through 25km in 1:21:58 and 30km in 1:38:29, and while Olympic seventh-place finisher Chumba was 10 seconds back at 35km – 1:55:03 to 1:55:13 – she passed Chepchirchir in the closing stages to finish third, eight seconds ahead.
Melly and Kebede had broken away by 40km, passed in 1:12:16, with Melly eventually striding away to win by eight seconds, 2:18:04 to 2:18:12, and record an almost three-minute PB.
Chumba was third in 2:20:02 and Chepchirchir fourth in 2:20:10, one place off her position in Seoul in 2019.
Seven years after her victory in Seoul, Ethiopia's Guteni Shone finished fifth in 2:28:05.
1 Joan Chelimo Melly (ROU) 2:18:04
2 Sutume Asefa Kebede (ETH) 2:18:12
3 Eunice Chumba (BRN) 2:20:02
4 Celestine Chepchirchir (KEN) 2:20:10
5 Guteni Shone (ETH) 2:28:05
1 Mosinet Geremew (ETH) 2:04:43
2 Herpasa Negasa (ETH) 2:04:49
3 Daniel do Nascimento (BRA) 2:04:51
4 Mark Korir (KEN) 2:06:54
5 Moses Kibet (KEN) 2:06:55