Alice Mogire clocked a new course record while Benson Barus won the men’s race at the sixth edition of Oporto Half Marathon Sport Zone on Sunday (16).
It is one of the most beautiful road races in Portugal, with magnificent views of the landmarks of Oporto city. On a totally flat course, Zersenay Tadese lowered the course record to 59:30 last year while this time the attention was on three Kenyans who have all clocked under one hour in their personal bests: James Kwambai (59:09, Rotterdam, 2009), Stephen Kibiwot (59:37, Lille, 2009) and Benson Barus (59:41, Udine, 2008).
All of them were running at the front until the 12th kilometres when Ethiopian Gebretsadik Abraha produced a strong surge and wound up leading alone until the 15th kilometre. At that point, Barus took the lead for the good, eventually crossing the line in 1:01:44, 13 seconds ahead of Bernard Kitur (personal best, previous 1:02:04, 2011) and 15 seconds clear of Evans Lagat Chebet who was contesting his debut over the Half Marathon distance.
The Ethiopian finished off the podium but nonetheless with a personal best of 1:02:36. Considering the hot weather and windy conditions always present in Oporto, the performances were noteworthy.
"This was a sensational race, very pleasant," said the winner. But not everyone agreed, among them Rui Pedro Silva, the first Portuguese across the line, 12th in 1:05:21. He credited his poor showing on the "beginning of a new season, without quality training".
Women’s course record for Mogire
In the women event, two athletes came to the front at the stat: Kenyan Alice Mogire (1:10:11, PB) and Ethiopian Ehitu Kiros Reda (1:11:58), with Portugal’s Sara Moreira following a few metres behind.
Without and major changes in the race’s first half, things changed after 10 kilometres. Mogire upped the tempo, Reda struggled behind her in second position, and Moreira, citing illness, dropped out.
At the finish, Mogire produced a new course record of 1:10:23, one second better than Pamela Chepchumba’s standard set in 2009. She was a comfortable 1:36 ahead of Reda, whose 1:11:59 was just one second shy of her personal best.
The podium was rounded out by Portuguese Leonor Carneiro with a 1:13:33 effort, not far off her 1:13:05 personal best from 2006. Carneiro returned to competition last year after giving birth to her son Leonardo who is now two years old.
More than 11,000 runners took part in all races; 3688 of them finished the Half Marathon.
António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF
Leading Results: Men - 1. Benson Barus, KEN 1:01.44 2. Bernard Kitur, KEN 1:01.57 3. Evans Lagat Chebet, KEN 1:01.59 4. Gebretsadik Abraha, ETH 1:02.36 5. Stephen Kibiwott, KEN 1:02.41 6. James Kwambai, KEN 1:03.00 7. Edwin Kiptoo, KEN 1:03.02 8. Yuda Cherise, KEN 1:03.57
Women - 1. Alice Mogire, KEN 1:10.23 2. Ehitu Kiros Reda, ETH 1:11.59 3. Leonor Carneiro, POR 1:13.33 4. Monica Silva, POR 1:15.27 5. Catarina Ribeiro, POR 1:16:02 6. Pinho, POR 1:17.18