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News29 May 2011

Moiben just holds off Abera to take Ottawa marathon victory


Laban Moiben wins 2011 Ottawa Marathon (© Victah Sailer)

Locked in combat through 41 kilometres Kenya's Laban Moiben managed to put daylight between himself and Dereje Abera of Ethiopia to win the 2011 ING Ottawa Marathon sunday in a time of 2:10:16.

His margin of victory at this IAAF Silver Label Road Race was just three seconds.

Moiben, who finished second in this race a year ago, was all smiles as he crossed the line to earn the $20,000 first prize and his biggest victory since capturing the 2008 Los Angeles Marathon.

"I was feeling very strong, no problem," he said afterwards. "I thought with two hundred metres left that I would win. Before the race I was expecting to finish between third and fifth so I am surprised with my win."

The 28-year-old who hails from Eldama Ravine in the Great Rift Valley was among a pack of a dozen athletes that passed 10km in a very quick 30:12 before settling into a more comfortable rhythm. They reached half way in 64:58 before the warm (17 degrees celsius) muggy conditions took their toll.

Earlier, a discussion at 5:30 a.m. had resulted in the pacemakers being instructed to hit halfway in 64:30 a full minute slower than originally planned, owing to the humidity. Moiben was seen chatting further to the pacemakers during the second half of the race.

"I was telling the pacemakers that I wanted to go faster," he reveals, " At 25km my body was good and I told the pacemakers 'let's go'"

By 40 kilometres it was a three man affair with Dino Sefir, a debutante at the marathon distance, still tagging along hoping to be close enough to use his speed near the finish. Sefir has run 5000m in 13:11.69 three years ago.

The Ethiopian, a training partner of Dereba Merga, the 2009 Boston marathon winner who captured the Ottawa 10k the previous night, ran a half marathon in 59:42 April 3rd at Vitry Sur Seine. But like many before him he found the full distance more than he expected and let go in the final kilometre. Still he was rewarded with a time of 2:10:33 and $10,000 in prize money.

Kenya's Silas Sang also managed to dip under 2:11 with a time of 2:10:56. That's a huge improvement on the 32-year-old's previous personal best of 2:11:44 from the 2006 Madrid marathon.

For Dereje Abera his 2:10:19 was a personal best. His previous best came at the 2010 Seoul Marathon where he ran 2:12:34

Moiben said he will use the $20,000 US prize money to help his family and their farm. He still lives on his father's farm in the Rift Valley.

"I have some plots of land of my own," he added. "Maybe I will buy a house."

Kebebush Haile, 25, another member of coach Haji Adilo's training group in Addis captured the women's race in 2:32:14 leading home four of her compatriots. The nearest was Biruktawit Eshetu who took second in 2:33:15. The Ethiopians were prominent at half way, reached in 1:14:14 before Haile sprung loose over the final five  kilometres.

Although this was Haile's slowest marathon since 2007 she was delighted with her performance. She ran 2:27:39 to finish 3rd in Rome March 20th then, a fortnight ago she injured her hip. During her warm-up today she complained of pain and told her manager she could only hope for a podium finish.

The race served as the Canadian men's championship but most of Canada's elite marathoners will face off at the Toronto marathon in October where they will attempt the 2:11:29 Olympic qualifying standard.

Toronto's Lucas Mcaneney was the first Canadian male finishing 11th overall in a time of 2:19:52. He won $2,000 in prize money.

Paul Gains for the IAAF