Kenyan Wilson Kiprop won the 18th edition of Semi-Marathon de Paris, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Sunday, clocking 1:01:26 in very cold and windy conditions. Ethiopia achieved a triple sweep in the women’s race, led by Atsede Bayisa in 1:11:05.
No less than 22,000 runners took to the start of the 21,1km circuit on Château de Vincennes’s Esplanade, along Avenue Dausmenil, leading to the centre of Paris via Rue Rivoli and cruising on the Bois de Vincennes, before arriving on the Avenue des Minimes.
The very cold (-4°C) and strong (60km/h) wind had a huge influence on the race strategy. The Africans, who arrived from Ethiopia and Kenya on Friday, particularly suffered from the 25° difference with their home climate.
Kenyan Kiprop went through the 5km point in 14:15 but no one took the risk to attack, discouraged by the huge wind that was now blowing into the runners from the ninth kilometre. At the 10th kilometre, reached in 28:35, favourite Dieudonné Disi of Rwanda withdrew, explaining that he felt he was out of shape. No initiative was taken in the front pack formed by five runners which included Kirpop and teammate Jairus Chanchima, and Ethiopians Lelisa Desisa, Bettona Sahle Warga and Raji Assefa. They passed at the 15th kilometre in 43:31.
By the 20th kilometre (58:31), the outcome of the race remained uncertain, but it was clear that the race record (1:00:27 by Kenyan Joseph Maregu in 2007) was safe. The slight down hill which closes the race, covered against the wind, was decisive as a sprint was engaged between Kiprop and Desisa. The Kenyan, 23 and little experienced on the circuit having started on 2008, displayed the best finishing kick and beat his Ethiopian rival in 1:01:26 by just two seconds. Shale Warga and Assefa closely followed in third and fourth, respectively.
In the women’s race, favourite Atsede Bayisa, Tirfi Beyene Tsegaye, Halima Beriso, Gisow Melkam (all Ethiopians) and Miriam Wangari (Kenya), formed a pack of five reaching the 5th kilometre in 16:26, the 10th in 33:40 and the 15th in 51:18. On the Rue Gravelle’s uphill section, Tsegaye, a 1:09:24 specialist, suddenly injected a painful acceleration and broke away, which lengthened the pack and left the Kenyan Wangari behind.
By kilometre 17, Melkam was dropped, and a few minutes later, it was the other teenager Beriso’s turn to fall back. Tsegaye, who repeatedly injected short bursts of acceleration, couldn’t reply when Bayisa, a discrete and economic follower, eventually attacked at the 20th kilometre.
Bayisa, 22, won the race in 1:11:05, from Tsegaye (1:11:13) and other Ethiopians Beriso (1:11:56) and Melam (1:11:56), far from the race record (1:09:37) set by Romanian Alina Tecuta way back in 1997. Bayisa, winner of Paris Marathon last year and Xiamen Marathon this season, has announced she will defend her Paris title during 34th edition to be held on 11 April.
Pierre Jean Vazel for the IAAF
Leading Results -
Men: 1. Wilson Kiprop (KEN) 61:26 2. Lelisa Desisa (ETH) 61:28 3. Bettona Sahle Warga 61:32 4. Raji Assefa (ETH) 61:34 5. Jairus Chanchima (KEN) 61:38 6. Alfred Kering (KEN) 62:30 7. John Komen (KEN) 63:15 8. Robert Cheruiyot (KEN) 63:16 9. James Rotich (KEN) 63:19 10. Ernest Kimeli (KEN) 63:20