News08 Feb 2008

Kenya secures swift but exceptionally tight doubles at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon


Patrick Makau Musyoki snatches win in Ras Al Khaimah in 2008 (© Victah Sailer)

It needed two photofinishes to separate seven athletes and more than justified the money spent, with Patrick Makau Musyoki and Salina Kosgei snatching victory by the slightest of margins in the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon early Friday morning (8). There were no half measures about the prize though, the Kenyans collecting US$25,000 each for victory.


It was less than 15 years ago that the first sub-one hour Half Marathon was run, Moses Tanui clocking 59:47 in the Stramilano race in April 1993. His young compatriot, Makau has now done it five times in 12 months, the first one coming when he finished second here in the inaugural race a year ago.

There were still ten men in contention at halfway, but that quickly reduced to five when Makau went to the front at 14 kilometres. The 21-year-old Ethiopian debutant, Tsegaye Kebede took up the relay three kilometres later, and he and Makau went away from the others, swapping the lead through the last two kilometres. Makau had the edge in the final straight, and repulsed Kebede’s sprint to prevail in 59:35, with the Ethiopian clocking the same time.

“I thought I could win from about 18 kilometres,” said Makau, “but he was very strong. He helped me get away from the others, but then he was hitting me with his elbow, I had to tell to stop”. Since Makau is a good head higher than Kebede, the tiny Ethiopian quickly acceded.

In the three years since Patrick Makau Musyoki began running seriously, he has established himself as one of the world’s leaders at the half-marathon, underlining that with victory in Berlin nine months ago in his fastest yet, 58:56, and then finishing second in the world championships last October.

Dickson Marwa of Tanzania had his best race ever, coming from behind to beat his more famous colleague, former world half-marathon champion Fabiano Joseph for third in 59.52. But Joseph was rewarded with his first sub-60 clocking, 59.56.

But Sydney Olympic 5000 metres champion, Million Wolde’s attempt to make a comeback came to grief. The Ethiopian finished nursing the right leg which has caused him so much trouble over the last five years, and it looks as if it would take a miracle for him to get back to anything like his former self. He finished behind the leading group of women in 72.39.


The women’s finish was even closer than the men’s race, with the leading trio crossing the line abreast, and the next pair just two seconds down. But ultimate winner, Kosgei owes her victory to the lethargy of her rivals.

The veteran Kosgei, a former 800 metres runner turned marathoner, had been dropped off the pack by 14k, but so gentle was the ensuing pace that she was able to claw back the deficit. She then dredged up some of that 800 metres speed from her memory bank, to outsprint her more fancied colleague, Pamela Chepchumba, and the Ethiopian Atsede Habtamu. All three were give the same time, 72.27, the pedestrian early pace contributing to the relatively slow time, but also to the much-appreciated frantic finish.

Pat Butcher for the IAAF



1   Patrick MAKAU   KEN     59:35      
2   Tsegaye KEBEDE  ETH     59:35      
3   Dickson MARWA   TAN     59:52      
4   Fabiano JOSEPH  TAN     59:56        
5   Mekubo MOGUSO   KEN     60:35        
6   Matthew KOECH   KEN     60:59        
7   Kiplimo KIMUTAI KEN     61:00        
8   Dieudonné DISI  RWA     61:07
9   Tewodros SHIFERAW/ETH       62:09
10  Paul KOSGEI     KEN     62:17


1   Salina KOSGEI   KEN     72:27   
2   Pamela CHEPCHUMBA/KEN   72:27      
3   Arsede HABTAMU  ETH     72:27      
4   Alice TIMBILIL  KEN     72:29        
5   Helalia JOHANNES    NAM     72:29        
6   Helena KIPROP   KEN     72:33        
7   Deriba ALEMU    ETH     72:36
8   Nataliya BERKUT UKR     72:42
9   Atsede BAYSA    ETH     75:12
10  Inga ABITOVA    RUS     75:42