Julius Maisei on top of the podium at the 2015 Singapore Marathon (© Organisers)
Kenya’s Julius Maisei notched up yet another marathon win in eastern Asia when he took the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon title in 2:17:24 on Sunday (6).
"The race for me was very humid," said Maisei, explaining his relatively modest time at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race, the slowest winning time in Singapore since 2003.
Nevertheless, he can take pride in the fact that he notched up his ninth win in 25 outings and also that Kenyan men have now won the last 14 editions of the Singapore Marathon.
"I was not expecting to win, until there were just three of us left, and then I decided to try my best. At 38 kilometres I tried my luck, and actually from 38, no one followed me, so I pushed and pushed and pushed," added the experience 30-year-old Maisei, who has also won marathon in the region in Macau, Dalian, Pattaya, Whuzhong, Hong Kong, and Zhengzhou, the latter coming in March this year.
Eight men, excluding pacemakers, went through the halfway point in 1:08:56, a clear indication that Luke Kibet’s six-year-old course record of 2:11:25 was never going to be under threat.
Despite Maisei pushing the pace much of the time, the leading pack had only been reduced by two at 30km, which six men reached in 1:37:16.
Maisei continued to dictate the tempo for most of the next five kilometres and passed 35km in 1:52:26 with his compatriots Barnaba Kibii, Geoffrey Birgen, Alan Kiprono and 2012 Singapore Marathon champion Kennedy Lilan closely following on his heels.
However, at 38km, Maisei surged again and was never headed.
Coming through strongly in the final five kilometres, 2013 Singapore Marathon winner Luka Chelimo had been 14 seconds adrift of the leading pack at 35km and lying sixth but he drew on his experience of the race and gradually overtook all-bar-one of the men in front of him, going past Kibii with around one kilometre to go to clinch second place.
Chelimo came home in 2:17:30 with Kibii third, another eight seconds further back.
Another of the contingent of Kenyan elite runners, pre-race favourite Evans Cheruiyot, suffered a slight injury just after 25 kilometres but still jogged and walked his way to the finish.
It was a winning marathon debut for Kenya’s Doris Changeywo in the women’s race as the 2010 Commonwealth Games 10,000m silver medallist took the honours in 2:44:26.
A large group of nine women went through the halfway point in 1:25:16 and then 25km in 1:41:00 but over the next three kilometres, and all-Kenyan trio Changeywo, Peninah Arusei, 2013 Singapore Marathon winner Sharon Cherop markedly increased the pace and the leading group disintegrated.
The three Kenyans then stayed together until just after 35 kilometres when Arusei started to fall back, and then Changeywo started to drop Cherop just before the 40km marker.
In the final two kilometres, Cherop started to struggle badly and Arusei recovered enough to go past her to take second in 2:44:40.
Cherop hung on to take third in 2:44:52 and complete two all-Kenyan podiums on Sunday.
Ethiopia's defending champion from 2014, Waganesh Mekasha, was struggling from the gun and dropped out just five kilometres into the race.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF