Irene Kimais wins the Prague Half Marathon (© Organisers)
Kenya’s Irine Jepchumba Kimais and Roncer Kipkorir Konga were comfortable winners at the Prague Half Marathon on Saturday (1), winning at the World Athletics Elite Label road race in 1:06:00 and 59:43 respectively.
Conditions were generally good, but the runners faced a strong headwind in the closing stages. Before then, though, the leaders in the women’s race were on for a swift time, having reached 10km in 31:04.
At that point, Kimais ran alongside fellow Kenyans Janeth Chepngetich and Nesphine Jepleting as well as Ethiopian duo Mebratu Tadesse and Zeray Bezabeh.
Kimais pushed the pace over the next five kilometres, covering that section in 15:19, which was enough to drop Chepngetich, the last of her opponents. Her pace slowed slightly in the final few kilometres as the strong winds took their toll, but Kimais held on to win in 1:06:00, the second-fastest time of her career after the 1:04:37 PB she set in Barcelona earlier this year.
“It was not a bad race and the course was good,” said the 24-year-old. “There were just some places I had to struggle with. Together with my pacemakers, we were fighting for the victory, and I am happy for this time.”
Chepngetich finished second in 1:06:42 and Bezabeh completed the podium in 1:07:15.
In the men’s race, six men ran alongside the pacemaker as they passed through 10km in 28:03 with Konga near the front of the pack.
Konga then upped the pace slightly and managed to open up a gap on what had now become the chase pack, reaching 15km in 41:51 with a nine-second lead. He extended that over the final few kilometres and, despite taking a wrong turn near the end, reached the finish a comfortable winner in 59:43.
Uganda’s Maxwell Rotich was second in 1:00:06, five seconds ahead of Kenya’s Geoffrey Koech.
"It's definitely a great result for me, I felt good on the course,” said Konga, who was just five seconds shy of his PB. “I'm very happy for a time under an hour. The wrong turn slowed me down, I could have run faster, maybe some five seconds. The wind was also a problem and slowed me down a little bit.”
1 Irine Jepchumba Kimais (KEN) 1:06:00
2 Janeth Chepngetich (KEN) 1:06:42
3 Zeray Bezabeh (ETH) 1:07:15
4 Mebratu Tadesse (ETH) 1:08:45
5 Nesphine Jepleting (KEN) 1:10:04
1 Roncer Kipkorir Konga (KEN) 59:43
2 Maxwell Rotich (UGA) 1:00:06
3 Geoffrey Koech (KEN) 1:00:10
4 Laban Kiplimo (KEN) 1:00:13
5 Kelvin Kibiwott (KEN) 1:00:14
Abebayahu and Kipchumba win in Xiamen, Mengesha victorious in Daegu
Ethiopia’s Meseret Alemu Abebayahu and Kenya’s Philemon Kipchumba were the winners at the Xiamen Marathon on Sunday (2).
Abebayahu won by more than a minute in 2:24:42, coming within 12 seconds of the PB she set when winning in Riyadh in February. Kenya’s Gladys Chesir was a distant runner-up in 2:51:51, finishing just ahead of Ethiopia’s Guteni Shone (2:25:58).
Kipchumba timed his race well to emerge as the leader in the second half, going on to win in 2:08:04. Ethiopia’s Lencho Tesfaye Anbesa was second (2:08:29), exactly half a minute ahead of Morocco’s Omar Ait Chitachen.
“I kept my pace in the early stages of the race, and started to speed up at the end,” said Kipchumba.
Elsewhere on the roads, Ethiopia’s Milkesa Mengesha won the Daegu Marathon in 2:06:49. The 2019 world U20 cross-country champion finished 11 seconds ahead of Kenya’s Stanley Kiprotich, while Eritrea’s Berhane Tsegay was third in 2:07:21.
Debutant Kwemoi and veteran Cherop win in Milan
Andrew Rotich Kwemoi became the first ever Ugandan winner of the Milan Marathon, taking the men’s race at the World Athletics Label event in 2:07:14 on his debut at the distance. Kenya’s 2011 world bronze medallist Sharon Cherop, meanwhile, produced her fastest time in four years to win the women’s race in 2:16:13.
A group of about 18 men were still in the lead pack when the half-way point was reached in 1:03:51. Just 10 of those remained in the group at 30km (1:30:47), and they were whittled down even further to just five men of five different nationalities – Kwemoi, Kenya’s Timothy Kattam Kipkorir, Rwanda’s John Hakizimana, Ethiopia’s Solomon Deksisa and Italy’s Yemaneberhan Crippa – at 35km.
Kwemoi broke away from the last of his opponents at 38km to cross the finish line in 2:07:14, having covered the second half in a negative split of 1:03:24.
The 22-year-old Ugandan runner set his half-marathon PB of 59:37 in Lille.
“It was my debut over the marathon distance and I could not ask for a better result on a fast course,” said Kwemoi, who set a half marathon PB of 59:37 last year. “I felt very good and in the final stages of the race I launched the decisive attack which enabled me to win against a strong field.”
Kattam finished second in 2:07:53, smashing his PB by five minutes. Hakizimana also improved his lifetime best to cross the finish line in third place in 2:08:18 ahead of Deksisa (2:08:48).
European 10,000m champion Crippa, who was making his marathon debut, suffered from stomach problems and finished fifth in 2:08:57.
In the women’s race, 2012 Boston Marathon winner Cherop was part of a seven-woman pack that went through the half-way point in 1:11:55. Ethiopia’s Sinthayehu Dessi and Kenya’s Emily Chebet Kipchumba were the only ones to stay with Cherop as they went through 30km in 1:42:39.
Over the final 10km, it came down to a race between Dessi and Cherop, but the latter broke away in the final kilometre to win in 2:26:13. Dessi took second place in 2:26:30, comfortably ahead of Kipchumba (2:28:08).
Diego Sampaolo for World Athletics