Felix Limo (KEN) wins the 2004 Fortis Rotterdam Marathon (© Getty Images)
The 23 yearold ever smiling Kenyan Felix Limo sped to a new course record in the 24th edition of the Fortis Rotterdam Marathon clocking 2:06:14 today.
While others had big problems with a wind of sometimes 5 metres per second it seemed as if Limo was never in difficulty.
Limo bettered the 2:06:50 set by Belayneh Dinsamo (ETH) in 1998, which stood as a world record for over ten years and was equalled as the course record by Josephat Kiproni in the 2001 race.
After heavy rain and strong winds during the night before the race, there was a strong wind blowing as the 11,000 runners set off for their 42.195 metres assault at 11.00hrs in the morning.
With the wind blowing into their faces a large group of around twenty runners, including the favourites Limo, Mike Rotich (KEN)and Salah Hissou (MAR) ran the first five kilometres in 15:17. Then with the wind on their backs for a short time, the pace went up, and the leaders passed 10km in 29:56, having done the second five kilometres in 14:39.
Group of seven take control by 15km
At fifteen kilometres the leaders were clocked at 44:52. Just after passing this point there were seven leaders: Limo, Rotich, Hissou, Stephen Cheptot, the surprising strong Brazilian Romulo Wagner da Silva, and the Kenyan pacemakers Wilson Kigen and Eliud Lagat.
These seven passed 20kms in 59:48 and at halfway were clocked at 1:03:13. Between 20 and 25km the wind was blowing full in their faces as they passed 25kms in 1:15:12. Cheptot and Lagat had by then lost contact.
Down to two
Between 25 and 30 kms it became clear that Hissou and Wagner da Silva also had problems with not only the wind but also the pace of the three Kenyans. They tried to stay in contact but at 30 kms, when Kigen's pace-making work was done, only Limo and Rotich were left in the lead to clock 1:29:59, with Hissou and Wagner da Silva ten seconds back.
32km surge takes win for Limo
Along the Kralingse Bos (Kralingen Wood), around 32km, all of a sudden Limo surged in front. He ran the five kilometres between 30 and 35k in an amazing 14:22 (1:44:21), and sped away from his last opponent Rotich, the winner of last year's Paris marathon.
The now struggling Rotich had by 35kms already lost 34 seconds on his opponent, and it was clear that Limo, who finished second in his first marathon in Amsterdam last year would win at Rotterdam.
Limo who was always looking back over his shoulder clocked 1:47 at 40km by which time Rotich had lost nearly two minutes on his countryman.
Of the other main followers Hissou had fallen back dramatically (he finished 11th), while Wagner da Silva kept his pace.
Finally, Limo won in 2:06:14, with Rotich nearly three minutes back (2:09:07) in second, and Wagner da Silva third (2:11:52).
"I could have got close to the World record"
"I think I ran a fantastic race," said Limo. "I'm sure that if there had not been such a strong wind I could have been close to the world record. After 35 kms there was a lot of wind and I lost a lot of time there. I will be back here.''
Mike Rotich also complained about the wind. "Next time I will beat Felix Limo. After 25 kms I felt (pain) in my right leg and I decided to run my own pace.''
Romulo Wagner da Silva - "This was my second race in Europe. I had some problems with the time difference. Last night I slept only for three hours. It was a pity about the wind on the course.''
Debut win for El Kamch
The women's race was won by Zhor El Kamch.
The Moroccan running her first marathon clocked a good 2:26:10. For most of the race she ran with Mexican Madai Perez, who could not follow the North-African after 40kms.
Perez finished second in 2:27:08. Russian Jelena Burykina who was with the two other women until 30km, took third place in 2:30:15.
1. Felix Limo (Ken) 2:06:14 (course record)
2. Michael Rotich (Ken) 2:09:07
3. Romulo Wagner da Silva (Bra) 2:11:28
4. Peter Kiprotich (Ken) 2:11:52
5. Stephen Cheptot (Ken) 2:11:52 (same time as 4th)
6. Tom van Hooste (Bel) 2:11:55
7. Luc Krotwaar (Ned) 2:11:56 (Dutch champion)
8. Zebedayo Bayo (Tan) 2:12:23
9. Willy Cheruiyot (Ken) 2:12:28
10. Philip Singoei (Ken) 2:12:36
11. Salah Hissou (Mor) 2:12:45
12. Kamel Kohil (Alg) 2:13:40
13. Wilson Chelal (Ken) 2:14:23
14. Shane Nankervis (Aus) 2:14:45
15. Bernard Barmassai (Ken) 2:14:49
16. Gabriel Jose Amedo Garcia (Gua) 2:14:52
17. Salim Kipsang (Ken) 2:14:55
18. Hugo van den Broek (Ned) 2:14:59
19. Claudir Rodrigues (Bra) 2:15:27
20. Alejandro Gomez (Spa) 2:16:22
1. Zhor el Kamch (Mor) 2:26:10
2. Madai Perez (Mex) 2:27:08
3, Jelena Burykina (Rus) 2:30:15
4. Maria Abel (Spa) 2:32:23
5. Zahia Dahmani (Fra) 2:33:01
6. Delilah Asiago (Ken) 2:37:24
7. Maria Jose Puyeo Bergua (Spa) 2:37:34
8. Nadja Wijenberg (Ned) 2:38:39 (Dutch champion)
9. Kristijna Loonen (Ned) 2:38:45
10. Serep Aktas (Tur) 2:41:01