All smiles - Gelete Burka after winning the Paris Marathon (© AFP/Getty Images)
Last updated: 14 April, 15:50 CET
Milaw and Burka take Paris Marathon titles
Ethiopia’s Abrha Milaw and Gelete Burka prevailed at the Schneider Electric Paris Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, whose 43rd edition took place on Sunday (14).
Milaw clocked 2:07:05 for a comfortable 20-second victory over compatriot Asefa Mengistu while Burka crossed the line in 2:22:47, five seconds clear of another Ethiopian, Azmera Gebru.
With his victory, Milaw put an end to Paul Lonyangata’s dominance in Paris, the 26-year-old Kenyan who was looking for a third successive victory in the French capital, a would-be record. Lonyangata had picked up a slight injury last week when he slipped and fell in training, but it wasn’t a big enough setback to keep him from the start line.
A small group of four runners, composed of three pacemakers and Milaw, reached five kilometres in 14:50, five seconds ahead of a pack of about 10 which included Lonyangata and others favourites.
Then, the chase group joined the four leaders, upping the rhythm. Spearheaded by Kenya’s Cosmas Lagat, the lead pack hit the 10km checkpoint in 29:31, before reaching the 15km mark in 44:23.
Ten men reached the halfway point in 1:02:15, suggesting a possible finish time of 2:04:30, well under the course record of 2:05:03 set by Kenenisa Bekele in 2014.
Lonyangata then made his first move to test his opponents before falling back into the fold.
The lead group reached 30km in 1:29:34, when pacemaker Cosmas Lagat dropped off. That left Milaw, Lonyangata, Morris Gachaga, Yitayal Atnafu, Asefa Mengistu (the fastest man of the field courtesy of a 2:04:06 PB), Barselius Kipyego and Polat Arika still in contention for the victory.
Much like a track cycling contest, the race became tactical with the leaders watching each other while shifting gears several times.
But overall, the lead pack slowed, covering the 5km section between the 30 and 35 km markers in 15:45, the slowest split of the race.
Milaw made a big surge with three kilometres remaining, building a four-second gap on Lonyangata and Mengistu, and nine on Gachaga, at 40km, hit in 2:00:30.
He forged on unchallenged to secure the 2:07:05 victory, clipping 20 seconds from his previous best and sealing a second successive French road success after his win at the Nice-Cannes Marathon last November.
“The conditions were tough,” Milaw simply said.
Mengistu, a past winner in Seoul, Cape Town and Bloemfontein, came home second in 2:07:25, well outside his personal best, while Lonyangata rounded the podium in 2:07:29, 1:19 slower than the time he clocked last year.
Morhad Amdouni, the European 10,000m champion, was the first Frenchman, finishing eighth in 2:09:14 in his debut over the distance.
Burka impresses with blistering kick
The women’s race was as fierce as expected.
The lead pack of a dozen passed the opening 5km in 17:30, suggesting a finish time of about 2:27:00. The group then ramped up the pace, covering the next 5km stretch in 16:40 to reach 10 kilometres in 34:13.
Six women remained in contention for the victory at the halfway point, hit in 1:11:08. Soon after the 30km point, Kenyan Sally Chepyego made a move that broke up the field behind her. Only the Ethiopian trio of Burka, Gebru and Azmera Abreha were able to sustain her relentless pace.
The foursome hit the 35km checkpoint in 1:57:52, 30 seconds ahead of Clémence Calvin of France and 56 seconds ahead of Betty Lempus. Chepyego still led the pack in the waning stages, but continually shadowed by Burka, Gebru and Arebha.
But Chepyego eventually faded while Burka, the 2008 world indoor 1500m champion, launched a furious attack in the final kilometre. Gebru followed suit, but couldn’t maintain contact as the finish line came into view.
Burka, who was the fastest woman the field, lived up to her favourite’s role to capture her second marathon victory in 2:22:47. Grebu finished five seconds in arrears as Abreha came home third in 2:23:35, six seconds ahead of Calvin whose 2:23:41 performance broke the French national record.
Quentin Guillon for the IAAF
Mindaye and Jerotich prevail in Warsaw
Regasa Mindaye of Ethiopia and Sheila Jerotich of Kenya took impressive victories at the 7th edition of the Orlen Warsaw Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label road race, on Sunday (14).
Mindaye prevailed in a sprint finish against Kenyan Ezekiel Omullo to take victory in 2:09:42 while Jerotich produced a negative split en route to a new course record of 2:26:06, over a minute and a half ahead of fellow Kenyan Antonina Kwambai.
A brisk pace was set in the initial kilometres of the men's race, with the leaders reaching 10km in 30:28 and the midway point in 1:04:05. By that point, the lead group was reduced to three: defending champion Omullo, Mindaye and Werkunesh Seyoum of Ethiopia, with the nearest pursuers, including Berhane Tsegay of Eritrea and the leading Pole Marcin Chabowski, nearly half a minute in arrears.
The pace slowed somewhat in the second half, but the top three continued to build on their lead. At 30km, it was nearly a minute, and it grew to more than a minute and half by 35km, reached by the leaders in 1:47:31.
It was around that point that Seyoum started to lose contact. Meanwhile, Mindaye and Omullo stayed together over the remaining kilometres, running neck and neck with 300 metres to go. Then, the Ethiopian launched his kick and it gradually became clear his rival was unable to respond.
Mindaye pulled away in the finishing straight crossing the finish line seven seconds ahead of Omullo, who clocked 2:09:49. Mindaye’s winning time was a new personal best for the Ethiopian who sliced more than minute from his two-year old mark of 2:10:51. Seyoum held on for third, exactly one minute behind the winner.
Further back, Chabowski finished fourth in 2:13:10 to add the national marathon title to his long lost of national titles he has accumulated over shorter distances.
In the women’s race, a lead group of five emerged early on, composed of Kenyans Jerotich, Kwambai, and Gladys Yator and Ethiopians Fantu Zewude Jifar and Hemila Wortessa. The leaders built more than a minute's lead by the halfway point, reached in 1:13:09.
Yator and Zewude started to lose ground soon after, with Wortesa the next to be dropped. By the time the Kenyan duo reached 30km in 1:44:15, their lead was already 42 seconds.
Soon after came the decisive move. Jerotich pulled away shortly before the 35km mark and ran an impressive 17:06, the fastest split of the race, over the next 5km.
Already assured of the win, Jerotich continued to push the pace to the finish, intent on earning a course record bonus. That effort was well rewarded, as she finished in 2:26:06, 19 seconds under the old mark set by Fatuma Sado in 2015. The time was also a big personal best for the winner, whose previous fastest was 2:27:34, and a new Polish all-comers record.
Kwambai was well beaten in the end, but could nonetheless be pleased with a second place and a time of 2:27:43 in her marathon debut. With Wortesa a non-finisher, Nina Savina of Belarus came through for third in 2:29:06, a personal best by more than four and a half minutes. Another debutante, Viktoriya Kalyuzhna of Ukraine, was fourth in 2:30:04.
Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF
Kimutai and Jimma take Wuhan victories
Kenya’s Andrew Ben Kimutai registered a convincing victory as he broke the course record at the Dongfeng Renault Wuhan Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label road race, on Sunday (14).
The 29-year-old Kimutai built a comfortable lead after 28 kilometres and crossed the line in 2:10:06, beating the course record of 2:11:15 set in the race’s inaugural edition in 2016.
It was Kimutai’s first victory in four races in China for Kimutai following his third-place finish in Chongqing, a runner-up finish in Taiyuan in 2017, and an eighth-place finish in Lanzhou last year. The winning mark was Kimutai’s second fastest after the 2:08:32 personal best he achieved last year in Seville.
Staged under cloudy and cool conditions, the race was paced by a crowded leading group of 15 runners in the early stages. The leaders passed 10 kilometres in 31:06, 15 in 46:49 and 20 in 1:02:42. After passing the water tables at the 25 kilometre mark in 1:17:52, the leading pack was trimmed to 11 runners. Kimutai launched his powerful charge after another three kilometres to seize the lead and when he hit the 30 kilometre mark the Kenyan was already 15 seconds ahead of the chasers.
The unchallenged Kimutai widened the gap to 41 seconds at 35km, followed by countryman Edwin Kirwa and Belachew Alemayehu of Ethiopia, and never looked back before breaking the tape.
Alemayehu, a 2:09:49 performer who set his PB in Dubai in 2016, clocked 2:10:59 to finish second. The 39-year-old Kirwa took the third place in 2:11:26.
Unlike the lopsided men’s race, the women’s race was only decided after the 40 kilometre mark. Pre-race favourite Fantu Jimma of Ethiopia emerged victorious from a four-woman battle to notch the win in 2:28:25.
It is the first marathon title achieved by the 31-year-old since her debut over the classic distance in 2011. Her winning mark is some two minutes shy of her 2:26:14 PB set in 2016 but is her fastest time since 2017.
A group of eight led the race to 10 kilometres in 34:43 and 15 kilometres in 52:20. When they passed the 20km mark in 1:10:00 the leader’s group was reduced to four: Jimma, fellow Ethiopian Tsehay Maru as well as Kenyan duo Kellen Waithira and Tecla Kirongo.
The quartet remained together for another 20km. When they reached the 40km water station, Maru was in front but Jimma soon caught up and pulled away for the win.
The 25-year-old Maru was 24 seconds behind Jimma to finish second in 2:28:49, improving her PB by more than five minutes. Kirongo also cut her PB by more than three minutes as she clocked 2:29:02 to finish third.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF