Milan, ItalyPaul Kimayo Kimugul from Kenya took the honours at the 35th edition of the Stramilano Half Marathon on Sunday (02) in 1:00:49 holding off Martin Sulle from Tanzania (1:01:10) and reigning Olympic marathon champion Stefano Baldini (1:01:14). In the women’s race, Hungary's Aniko Kalovics, a clubmate of Kimugul’s at the Cover Mapei Verbania, completed a brilliant day for the Italy-based squad winning in 1:10:55 with her usual "gun to tape" tactic. For Kalovics, European cross country bronze medallist in 2003, it was the second consecutive win in the famous Milan half marathon race.
Decisive move in the 17th kilometre - men's race
The race was launched by Kenyan pacemaker Kipyegon Kirui who set a regular 2:52 pace per kilometre through the first 10. Kimugul, Sulle, Baldini, and former Stramilano winner and Italian Half Marathon record holder Rachid Berradi, formed the lead group which reached 5Km in 14:28.
At 10Km, Ethiopia's Ambessa Tolosa Wolde and Switzerland's Viktor Röthlin closed the gap on the lead pack, reaching 10 kilometres 29:01 and 15 kilomtres in 43:32.
Four men - Sulle, Baldini, Kimugul and Wolde - pulled away from the rest of the field at 13 km; three kilometres later, Kenyan Philmon Kipsang caught up, while Wolde was dropped in the final 5Km.
Kimugul, who recovered from a minor leg injury during a training camp in Kenya, upped the pace injecting a 2:48 split between the 17th and 18th kilometres, breaking away from Sulle and Baldini who were unable to close the gap. Kimugul entered the Arena Civica stadium with a solid 21 seconds margin and crossed the finish line in the famous Napoleonic Arena in 1:00:49.
Kimugul’s tactic paid dividends. The 25-year-old, from a small village near Eldoret, claimed his second major win over the Half Marathon distance after taking the honours last year in Berlin. Kimugul, who spends most of the year in the Italian town of Domodossola and is coached by former Italian marathoner Severino Bernardini, has a PB of 60:15 from Rotterdam in 2005.
"I wanted to run faster but I picked up a leg injury in Kenya which is now healed," Kimugul said. The Kenyan will now contest next week's Scarpa D'oro road race in Vigevano on 8 April and will act as a pacemaker at the star-studded London Flora Marathon on 23 April. As confirmed by the Cover Mapei team manager Giampaolo Pizzi, Kimugul will make his debut over the marathon distance next fall in Venice (22 October).
Baldini bounces back from tendonitis
Italian marathon hero Stefano Baldini, who returned from a successful training stint in Namibia on Thursday, showed that he is returning to his best form with a confidence-boosting 1:01:14 after missing a month of training between December and January due to tendonitis. Baldini, a former World Half Marathon champion in 1996 and a 1:00:50 performer over the 21.1Km distance, was held off by former World Half Marathon bronze medallist Martin Sulle, who repeated his runner-up place achieved at the Stramilano in 2004 where he ran 60:29.
"At the end of January I could run only one hour a day,” Baldini said. “And two months later I finished the Half Marathon in 1:01:14. I missed an important month of training this winter but I worked beyond my expectations in Namibia and I am now in good form. I can run 35 km at high level. I will need the final three weeks before London to work on the final seven kilometres. I know that Gebrselassie and Tergat will run at a World record pace. In this period of the year I cannot afford to follow them. I will run my own race. This winter I planned to break my own Italian record (2:07:29) but the injury changed my goal." Baldini will also lead a strong Italian marathon team at the European Championships in Gothenburg next August.
The Stramilano was the opportunity for Baldini to launch an important fund- raiser initiative. "Together with my collegues and close friends Daniele Caimmi and Ottaviano Andriani I decided to put up a special bib with our autographs for sale to raise funds to help the research into the neuroblastoma, a disease which hits pre-school children."
Gun-to-tap for Kalovics - women's race
Aniko Kalovics fulfilled her promise made at the press conference on the eve of the Stramilano to attack from the early beginning and run her usual front-running race in the attempt to dip under the 1:10 barrier.
After seven kilometres the Hungarian, who was paced by her fiancé and coach Zsolt Zsoder, built up a solid gap over top Italian runners Patrizia Tisi, Ivana Iozzia, Fatna Maraoui and Marcella Mancini.
Her gun to tape tactic paid dividends for victory without a strong opposition but she had to slow down due to some stomach problems at 13Km.
"I am a bit disappointed,” Kalovics said. “I wanted to break my PB and run a 69 minute time. But the Stramilano is a great race with a lot of people cheering along the course and I am happy to win this race for the second consecutive time." Kalovics indicated that she may contest her first marathon in Carpi next fall.
Patrizia Tisi, who did not compete at the World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka to focus instead on the attempt to set the qualifying standard for the European Championships at the European 10000 metres Challenge in Antalya (Turkey) on 15 April, was the first Italian, finishing runner-up in 1:12:12. Ivana Iozzia set a PB with 1:13:26 to claim third place over Morocco-born Italian Fatma Maraoui (1:13:46).
A sunny and warm day attracted about 50,000 runners who competed in a 15Km event from Piazza del Duomo to the Arena Civica.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1. Paul Kimayo Kimugul (Kenya) 60:49
2. Martin Sulle (Tanzania) 61:10
3. Stefano Baldini (Italy) 61:14
4. Philmon Kipsang (Kenya) 61:27
5. Viktor Röthlin (Switzerland) 62:16
6. Tolosa Ambessa Wolde (Ethiopia) 62:38
7. Ruggero Pertile (Italy) 62:39
8. Rachid Berradi (Italy) 64:01
9. Migidio Bourifa (Italy) 65:26
10. Reinhard Harrasser (Italy) 65:27
11. Alberico Di Cecco (Italy) 65:36
1. Aniko Kalovics (Hungary) 70:55
2. Patrizia Tisi (Italy) 72:12
3. Ivana Iozzia (Italy) 73:26
4. Fatma Maraoui (Italy) 73:46
5. Marcella Mancini (Italy) 74:55
6. Claudia Pinna (Italy) 76:31
7. Romina Sedoni (Italy) 77:44
8. Naomi Warner (Australia) 77:53
9. Louise Watson (Great Britain) 78:17
10. Paola Ventrella (Italy) 79:53