The DongA Ilbo Gyeongju International Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, was staged for the sixth time since the inaugural 2007 version and the 2012 edition was easily the best of all. This Marathon, which only includes an international men’s race, has only seen African winners with Kenya taking the first two titles and Ethiopia following with the next two.
Last year a surprise name from Kenya, Wilson Loyanai emerged as the winner in a fast 2:09:23 bettering his previous personal best of 2:13:00 from Mombasa 2011 by more than three and a half minutes. Loyanai has since won the Dong-A Seoul International Marathon in March 2012 in a fast 2:05:37 PB and started this edition of Gyeongju Marathon as one of the favourites to defend his title from last year. The Kenyan did not just win the race for the second straight time, but smashed Ethiopian Yemane Tsegay’s 2:08:52 course record from 2009 by more than two minutes while leading four runners under the old CR and a total of seven under 2:10. Loyanai’s winning time of 2:06:46 is the second fastest of his career while Kenya grabbed an unbelievable top nine places in the competition with Boniface Mbuvi (2:08:39 for 2nd) and Moses Kurgat (2:08:40 for 3rd) reaching personal bests in the tight sprint finish for the second place.
The race started with a fast pace from the opening moments with a large leading pack reaching five kilometres in 15:08. The second 5-k was even faster in 15:02 and when the leaders reached 15km in 45:30, there were still was almost 20 runners in the pack. The race continued in even style through 25km in 1:16:23 and 30km in 1:31:34, but the move made after that by the defending winner Loyanai was decisive. The change of pace scattered the runners behind him quickly and with the Kenyan reaching 35km in 1:46:07 following the quickest 5km (14:33) in the race there was really no chasing pack left.
In the all-Kenya race Mbuvi took second place 42 seconds behind the leader with three other Kenyans three seconds behind him - that tells something about the level in the change of pace for Loyanai. The leader then accelerated a bit more clocking even a faster 5km in 14:20 and then ran the remaining 2.195km 19 seconds faster than the next three finishers. Loyanai won in 2:06:46 with Mbuvi beating Moses Kurgat in final sprint with times being 2:08:39 and 2:08:40 respectively, both personal bests.
Benson Barus missed his season’s best by only six seconds in fourth place in 2:08:42 and Elijah Keitany clocked a 2:09:08 season’s best for fifth and Jason Mbote was sixth in 2:09:16, also a SB.