Lisbon, PortugalThe city of Lisbon acts like a talisman for Paul Tergat who took his second victory in the Lisbon Half Marathon, the 15th edition of which was held earlier today. His winning time was 59:10, just short of the 59:06 clocking, unofficially the world’s fastest ever time, which he set when winning this race in 2000.
In its history the Lisbon race has produced some of the world’s finest ever road races at the Half Marathon distance but is contested on a slightly downhill course (40m; between 2000-2003 it was 69m) and therefore it is not recognised for record purposes.
However, Tergat is in any case the holder of the official World record for the distance thanks to his 59:17 clocking in Milan, Italy in 1998.
“The race went really well," confirmed Tergat. "The field was strong and I had some very hard rivalry from the Kenyan guys. I love competing here, this is my city." This is Tergat’s last competition before he contests the London Marathon next month. “The time expressed that I am going in the right way in terms of my preparation for London.”
Tergat who is also the World record holder for the full Marathon distance was one of the athletes that formed the leading group immediately after the beginning of the race at the bridge over the Tagus River. After only 20 minutes only eight athletes remained in contention for the win, in a race which was totally controlled by the Kenyans.
Four under the hour
Robert Cheruiyot (KEN) was second in 59:21 and Wilson Kiprotich (KEN), 8th in the World Half Marathon Championships in 2004, was third in 59:27. Martin Lel, the 2003 New York Marathon winner was 4th in 59:42. Rogers Rop, the former New York and Boston Marathon winner was 5th in 1:00:46, so completing the leading group of Kenyan runners.
In the 6th position arrived Morocco’s World Marathon champion Jaouad Gharib in 1:00:51, while Italy’s Olympic 2004 Marathon Champion Stefano Baldini finished 8th in 1:01:17 in what was a good training for the London Marathon.
“It was too fast for me," commented Baldini. “The Kenyans ran like they were running the 10,000m. But I believe I had a good result since I am in heavy training for London”, the Olympic champion explained, reminding us that he is “a marathon runner”.
Haile Gebrselassie who was originally due to run today had advised the organisers four days ago that he was not fit enough to compete.
WOMEN - Susan Chepkemei three-time winner
Susan Chepkemei (KEN) captured her third title in the Lisbon Half Marathon, after victories in 2001 and 2002. The silver medallist at the World Half Marathon Championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002, who was also second behind Paula Radcliffe in a dramatic race at last year’s New York Marathon, won with ease in 1:08:47. In the process the Kenyan left behind reigning London Marathon champion Margaret Okayo (KEN) who finished second in 1:09:17. The Ethiopian Asha Gigi, runner-up in last year’s Paris Marathon, was third in 1:09:53.
“I enjoyed running again here in Lisbon, the course was nice and the people are very friendly. This was a good preparation for the London Marathon”, said the winner. About the race, Chepkemei explained: “I like running my own race and didn’t look that much behind me.”
Celebrities run the Mini-Marathon
As usual the President of the Portugal’s Republic Jorge Sampaio and José Socrates the Prime Minister, participated in the Mini-Marathon, along with Portuguese sports and society individuality. In total 35,000 people took part in this atlhletics party.
Cristina Moreira and Paulo Costa for the IAAF
1. Paul Tergat (KEN) 59:10
2. Robert Cheruiyot (KEN) 59:21
3. Wilson Kiprotich (KEN) 59:27
4. Martin Lel (KEN) 59:42
5. Rogers Rop (KEN) 1:00:46
6. Jaouad Gharib (MOR) 1:00:51
7. Paul Kirui (KEN) 1:01:15
8. Stefano Baldini (ITA) 1:01:17
9. Ambesse Tolossa (ETH) 1:01:18
10. Benson Cherono (KEN) 1:02:07
1. Susan Chepkemei (KEN) 1:08:47
2. Margaret Okayo (KEN) 1:09:17
3. Asha Gigi (ETH) 1:09:53
4. Rosalba Console (ITA) 1:09:55
5. Merima Dendoba (ETH) 1:10:37
6. Joyce Chepchumba (KEN) 1:10:39
7. Leah Malot (KEN) 1:12:00
8. Claudia Oberlin (SWI) 1:13:30
9. Fátima Silva (POR) 1:13:52
10. Monica Silva (POR) 1:15:41