Valerie Aiyabei winning at the 2016 Barcelona Marathon (© Organisers)
Valerie Aiyabei produced a solo run almost from the gun to win the 2016 Zurich Marató de Barcelona in 2:25:26 on Sunday (13), which was a Spanish women’s all-comers’ best and also a big improvement on her career best for the 25-year-old Kenyan at the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race.
She followed male pacemaker Tom Payn, from Great Britain, to reach the 10km point in 34:32 while the first half was covered in 1:13:01.
At this point it was clear that her sights were set on breaking either or both of two records.
Portugal’s Marisa Barros was the holder of the Spanish all-comers’ best in 2:26:03 set back in 2009 in Seville while Emily Samoei, from Kenya, set the women's course record of 2:26:52 in the Catalan city three years ago.
Aiyabei steadily increased her pace over the next 13 kilometres and she passed 35km in 2:00:05 before crossing the line almost five minutes faster than she had ever run the classic distance before and with a margin of over five minutes from her nearest rival.
The delighted winner commented: “Honestly, it has been a fantastic race for me, I didn’t expect that kind of time today.”
Pre-race favourite and 2015 winner Aynalem Kassahun, of Ethiopia, never challenged the winner and had to settle for a distant second place in 2:30:51 while her compatriot Motu Megersa completed the podium in third with 2:32:07.
Hampered by strong gusts of headwind for several kilometres, the men’s race started a bit slower than expected and a large group of 20 runners passed the 10km point in 30:33.
There were no fewer than eight pacemakers with the group while the pre-race favourites, Dino Sefir and Kenya’s Jafred Chirchir Kipchumba travelled comfortably in the middle of the pack.
The pace remained virtually unchanged over the next 10km section and the leading group reached the halfway point in 1:04:20, leaving behind them any realistic chance of breaking the 2:07:30 course record.
The 30km point was reached in 1:31:50 by the leaders, which included the Ethiopian trio of Sefir, Tsedat Abege Ayana and Abdi Fufa plus the Kenyan quartet of Kipchumba, Luka Rotich, Pius Kiprop and Albert Korir.
Shortly afterwards, Sefir and Korir took command of the pace and then moved away from their rivals. The key move was made by Sefir with about four kilometres to go when he seemingly easily pulled away from Korir.
Despite his late burst of speed, Sefir could still not go under 2:09, having to settle for a win in 2:09:31.
Korir was second in 2:10:08 although he made a huge improvement on his previous best of 2:21:08, set in the altitude on home soil in Eldoret, while Kipchumba was third in 2:10:23.
I6,899 runners completed gthe marathon on Sunday.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF