Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew continued his winning streak at the 13th Yangzhou Jianzhen International Half Marathon, taking his fourth consecutive title at the IAAF Gold Label road race in 1:01:31 on Sunday (22).
The 26-year-old emerged victorious from a three-man battle in the final kilometre, using similar tactics that had worked so well in his three previous appearances in the Chinese city.
Confident with his powerful finishing sprint, Geremew patiently hid in the lead group until the last kilometre and flat home stretch, where he could launch his final charge for victory.
The organisers had assembled a high-quality field with five sub-60-minute runners but their ambition to witness a course record was ruined by rain in the second half of the race.
Geremew’s winning mark is more than one-and-a-half minutes slower than his course record and Chinese all-comers’ record of 59:52 set in 2015 and further shy of his personal best of 59:11.
The race started under cool and moist conditions with a leading pack of 16 runners hitting the five-kilometre mark in 14:48. But it began to rain after the leaders passed 10 kilometres in 29:23, and only nine men were left by the time the lead group reached the 15km water tables.
After another kilometre, Kenya’s Shadrack Kimining, the fifth-place finisher last year with a PB of 1:00:07 set in Ras Al Khaimah, tried to pull away with a series of surges. Although some managed to keep up with Kimining’s pace, the leading group shrank quickly.
At about 19km, Kimining was followed by only four men including Geremew, Bahrain’s Asian record-holder Abraham Cheroben, Ethiopian teenager Andamlak Belihu, who clocked 59:51 on his debut at the distance last year, and Hiskel Tewelde of Eritrea, the sixth-place finisher in Yangzhou three years ago with a PB of 1:00:29.
After just one kilometre, Belihu and Tewelde also dropped behind. The leading trio kept shoulder-to-shoulder until Geremew took the lead with about 400 metres remaining.
Before breaking the tape, the Ethiopian saluted to the audience alongside the course to celebrate his second triumph of the year following his course-record-breaking feat at the Dubai Marathon with a world-leading of 2:04:00.
The 25-year-old Cheroben, the fastest entrant on paper with a PB of 58:40, improved on his third-place finish in Yangzhou last year to take the second place in 1:01:33, while Kimining finished third in 1:01:35.
Like the men’s race, the women’s race also saw a three-runner contest in the final kilometre.
Last year’s runner-up Ababel Yeshaneh took the top honours in 1:09:06, meaning Ethiopian runners swept both titles for the second year in a row.
The 26-year-old was followed closely by Kenyan duo Joan Melly and last year’s fifth-place finisher, Paskalia Chepkorir, with just one kilometre to go. Chepkorir, the 2012 world half marathon bronze medallist, was the first to drop behind and was soon followed by Melly, who was considered the pre-race favourite after her recent 1:05:04 run in Prague.
The 29-year-old Chepkorir, whose PB of 1:07:17 was set back in 2012, took the third place in 1:09:23.
Yeshaneh’s winning mark was 1:45 shy of the course record set by 2016 world half marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir. It’s her second half marathon victory of the year, having won in Istanbul earlier this month in a PB of 1:06:22.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF