Kenya’s Samuel Wanjiru, the current World Half Marathon record holder, grabbed a huge win in his specialist event at the ‘21st Mitja Marató de Granollers’ held yesterday (3) in this town located 20kms away from Barcelona.
The 21-year-old Kenyan ace’s winning time was 59:26 which is a new Spanish all-comers best succeeding in that feat a living legend like Ethiopia’s Haile Gbrselassie, who set the previous best in 2006 with a 60.08 clocking.
Right from the start Wanjiru and his countryman Cosmers Kemboi dictated a hot pace leaving their fellow Kenyans Wilson Chebet, Yacob Yator and Spain’s Chema Martínez way back. The decisive movement came in the 8th kilometre when Wanjiru broke away from Kemboi. The leader covered the first half of the race, which is uphill, in 30:13 building a 30-second advantage over Kemboi, himself four seconds clear of Chebet while Martínez had suffered a fall in the third kilometre and lost 1:40 by midway.
The downhill second section witnessed a solo effort by Wanjiru who went through the 15th kilometre in 42:20 en route to an outstanding 59:26 success with a massive 1:46 margin over Chebet, timed at 61:12, who overtook a faltering Kemboi, also passed by Yator, third in 61.39. Martínez, a 10th placed at the Osaka Worlds in the Marathon event, came finalist 5th in 62: 46 (PB), also behind Kemboi’s 62:29, in his final test before contesting the Barcelona Marathon next 2 March.
Wanjiru who is coached by Japan’s 1992 Olympic Marathon silver medallist Koichi Morishita, declared: “I’m delighted with my victory. I have to say that I have lost valuable sessions of training due to the on-going conflict in my country so my first target of breaking my own World record of 58.33 was virtually impossible so I turned my pre-race expectations to dip under the 60:00 barrier at least and I have done it. It has been an great honour for me to better ‘the Emperor’ mark.”
The diminutive (1.63m / 50kgs) World record holder added: “I felt comfortable throughout the race and I liked the circuit so much despite it’s not a flat one. I hope to return here on future occasions to run even faster than today.”
The women’s race win at the Granollers Half Marathon went for the 29-year-old Kenyan Rahab Ndungu thanks to a 71:20 effort while Alessandra Aguilar, a member of the Spanish Cross Country squad which took gold at last December’s Europeans in Toro, finished runner-up to slice one second from her previous PB by clocking 71:33.
London and Beijing, next goals
Wanjiru confirmed that he will join the star-studded line-up assembled for the next Flora London Marathon to take place on 13 April. In the British capital he will take on some of the greatest marathon runners in the world such as Kenya’s defending champion Martin Lel, the former World record holder, Paul Tergat, his fellow-Kenyan and 2006 London Marathon champion Felix Limo plus the reigning World champion Luke Kibet also of Kenya, among others.
“I look forward to competing in London since that event will act as a real Kenyan Olympic trials for Beijing. The three fastest athletes there will be selected for the Olympics and despite such a strong opposotion I hope to be one of them, obviously” confirmed Wanjiru who made a successful marathon debut last 2 December in Fukuoka by running the third fastest ever time for a debutant with a 2:06:39 performance to his credit.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF
1. Samuel Wanjiru (Ken) 59:26 (WL)
2. Wilson Chebet (Ken) 61:12
3. Yacob Yator (Ken) 61:39
4. Cosmers Kemboi (Ken) 62:29
5. Chema Martínez (Esp) 62:46
1. Rahab Ndungu (Ken) 71:20
2. lessandra Aguilar (Esp) 71:33
3. Beatrice Toroitich (Ken) 73:33
4. Meritxell Calduch (Esp) 74:03
5. Kenza Wahbi (Mor) 75:24