The Ten Miles of Lago di Garda, a road race taking place in Navazzo di Gargnano (Brescia), celebrated Sunday its 30th birthday with a very unexpected "present”: the former marathon world record holder Tegla Loroupe took part in the race on the streets of this small town with a beautiful view on the biggest of the Italian lakes.
Loroupe has the victories in some of the most important marathons in the world (three times Rotterdam, two times New York, once London and Berlin), three world titles in the half marathon and two 10,000m bronze medals at the World Championships in Goteborg 1995 and Sevilla 1999. When she won her first New York Marathon in 1994, she was only 21 years old and had to stop after 10 kilometres, but she went on and a year later she repeated the triumph. In the 1998 Rotterdam marathon she set a new world best with 2:20:47, 13 years after Ingrid Kristiansen’s 2:21:06. The following year she improved this mark again, winning the Berlin marathon in 2:20:43.
The diminutive Loroupe (156 cm and 40 kg) has a big smile and good words for everybody. Victories and records may have made her wealthy, but she has not lost her simplicity and friendliness. In Navazzo she decided to run without any appearance fee, just in order to give some help to the race and the organizers. After the race she appreciated very much the "runner’s hymn" the local band played in her honour.
Loroupe - who has decided not to run marathons this year so as to concentrate her training for the 2004 Olympic Games - had to contest not only with other top-class runners, but also with a very hot day, given that the start of the international race was at 11.30 in the morning. The 1-mile course also was hard, with the last 200 meters uphill. The 30 year old Kenyan took the lead in the 2nd of 5 laps and at once she dropped the other in the lead pack with Ruth Kutol (2h27'54" marathon PB), Caroline Cheptanui, Gloria Marconi and Anne Kosgei.
At the beginning of the 3rd lap, Loroupe led Kutol by 5", Cheptanui by 9", Marconi by 15" and Kosgei by 20". In the last 3 laps she controlled Kutol and finished in 26:38, lowering by 13 seconds the previous best time for the race by the Slovenian Helena Javornik. Kutol (26'43") also bettered the previous record. Marconi, 2003 winner of the Roma-Ostia half marathon and City of Rome Marathon (her debut marathon), had a good finish, first joining then passing Cheptanui. Her finish time was 27:02, a good test because she will run the marathon for Italy at the World Championships in Paris.
Loroupe asked organizers only one thing: to bring with her one of her "protégés", the young athletes who train in the camp she built up in the Kapsait area near Eldoret. She chose 20 year old Vincent Krop, who had run outside Kenya only one time. Krop's thanks to them all was an incredible performance: he attacked during the 7th lap and dropped two other Kenyans, Elijah Nyabuti and Ronald Munyao. His 47:42 finish was one of the best times in the race won in the past by champions like Moses Tanui, Paul Tergat, Andrew Masai and other top Kenyan runners, an excellent performance given the toughness of the course.
The Italian athletes’ performances were less spectacular. The first across the finish line was Ruggero Pertile, who also will run the marathon in Paris, in eighth position, nearly 3 minutes behind the winner. Another Italian marathon team member, Migidio Bourifa (2:09:07 PB), came in 5 minutes behind Krop.
MEN - 10 MILES (16.090 KM) 1 - Vincent Krop KEN 47:42 2 - Eliyah Nyabuti KEN 48:19 3 - Ronald Munyao KEN 48:37 4 - William Chebon Chebor KEN 49:08 5 - Paul Kanda KEN 49:11 6 - Kenneth Kiprono Korir KEN 50:13 7 - Rashid Amor MAR 50:27 8 - Ruggero Pertile ITA 50:35 9 - Roberto Antonelli ITA 51:19 10 - Saaid Ribag MAR 51:36
WOMEN - 5 MILES (8.045 KM) 1 - Tegla Loroupe KEN 26:38 2 - Ruth Kutol KEN 26:43 3 - Gloria Marconi ITA 27:02 4 - Caroline Cheptanui KEN 27:19 5 - Anne Kosgei KEN 27:57