Titus Ekiru wins the Milan Marathon (© Giancarlo Colombo)
Kenya’s Titus Ekiru and Ethiopia’s Hiwot Gebrekidan recorded world-leading times of 2:02:57 and 2:19:35 to break the Italian all-comers’ records at the Generali Milano Marathon, a World Athletics Label road race, on Sunday (16).
It was Ekiru’s second victory in Milan, having won in 2019 in 2:04:46, the previous Italian all-comers’ record. Gebrekidan, meanwhile, was competing in Italy for the first time and was rewarded with a four-minute PB.
This year’s race, held in ideal 13C temperatures, was staged on a 7.5km circuit in front of the Castello Sforzesco in the heart of Milan.
In the men’s race, the leading pack of 10 athletes set a consistent pace in the first half, passing 5km in 14:47, 10km in 29:28 and 15km in 44:13. Leading South African runner Stephen Mokoka, acting as a pacemaker in Milan, reached the half-way mark in 1:01:48.
Ekiru started to push the pace after 30km, covering the next five-kilometre segment in 14:11 and the following one in 14:34. He maintained that pace to the end and, having covered the second half in 1:01:09, went on to cross the finish line in 2:02:57.
The 29-year-old now moves to fifth on the world all-time list, level with former world record-holder Dennis Kimetto.
The first five men finished inside the previous Italian all-comers’ record. Reuben Kipyego finished second in 2:03:55 ahead of Barnabas Kiptum (2:04:17), 2018 Milan Marathon winner Seifu Tura from Ethiopia (2:04:29), Leul Gebrselassie from Ethiopia (2:04:31), and Gabriel Gerald Geay, who set a Tanzanian record of 2:04:55.
“At 20 km I felt in very good shape and I tried to push the pace,” said Ekiru, the 2019 African Games half marathon champion. “I feel emotional. Maybe I can run 2:01 in the future.”
Unlike the men’s contest, the women’s race was a one-runner affair with Gebrekidan making a break in the early stages.
After covering the first 5km in 16:43 as part of a leading pack, the 26-year-old Ethiopian made a break and went through the half-way point inside 70 minutes with a lead of 20 seconds, hinting at a finishing time inside 2:20.
By the time she reached 30km in 1:38:28, Gebrekidan’s lead over Kenya’s Racheal Mutgaa had grown to 84 seconds. Gebrekidan’s pace dropped only slightly in the second half and she held on to win in 2:19:35, breaking the previous world-leading time and Italian all-comers’ record of2:20:08 set by Kenya’s Angela Tanui in Siena last month.
"I trained very well and I prepared for this race at the Istanbul Half Marathon," said Gebrekidan, whose previous PB of 2:23:50 was set at the 2019 Guangzhou Marathon. "I will celebrate this win with my family."
Mutgaa went on to finish second in 2:22:50 ahead of Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba (2:23:10). With the first seven women finishing inside 2:25, it was the deepest ever women’s marathon held in Italy.
Diego Sampaolo for World Athletics
1 Hiwot Gebremaryam Gebrekidan (ETH) 2:19:35
2 Racheal Jemutai Mutgaa (KEN) 2:22:50
3 Eunice Chumba (BRN) 2:23:10
4 Moges Betelhem Cherenet (ETH) 2:23:38
5 Risper Chebet (KEN) 2:23:50
6 Tilahun Yenenesh Dinkesa (ETH) 2:24:50
7 Lewetegn Hailemichael Sintayeheu (ETH) 2:24:53
8 Besu Sado (ETH) 2:27:06
9 Winfridah Moseti Moraa (KEN) 2:27:44
10 Stella Barsosio (KEN) 2:27:52
1 Titus Ekiru (KEN) 2:02:57
2 Reuben Kipyego (KEN) 2:03:55
3 Barnabas Kiptum (KEN) 2:04:17
4 Seifu Tura Abdiwak (ETH) 2:04:29
5 Leul Gebrselassie (ETH) 2:04:31
6 Gerald Gabriel Geay (TAN) 2:04:55
7 Nicholas Kirwa (KEN) 2:05:01
8 Joel Kemboi Kimurer (KEN) 2:05:19
9 Yerssie Beshah Eskezia (ETH) 2:06:40
10 Elisha Kipchirchir Rotich (KEN) 2:06:44