Some times you get what you want. Such was the case with the 37th edition of the TCS Amsterdam Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, which saw both its men's and women's course records broken today.
Wilson Chebet was the fastest man in 2:05:41 shaving three seconds off the 2:05:44 which Ethiopian Getu Feleke clocked in 2010. On the women's side, Meseret Hailu of Ethiopia scored a second big success in 15 days time. On 6 October she triumphed at the World Half Marathon Championships in Kavarna (Bulgaria). This Sunday she won in 2:21:09. The 22-year-old Ethiopian bettered her personal best by six minutes and six seconds. Earlier this year she won the Egmond Half Marathon in 1:11:18.
For Chebet it was his third start in the Amsterdam Marathon. Two years ago he ran his first Marathon finishing second behind Getu Feleke, whose course record he now broke, and last year the 27-year-old Kenyan won the race in 2:05:53.
Under grey skies and a temperature around 11 degrees C around 13,000 marathon runners started in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic stadium. Led by several pace makers a large group went out rather fast with a 15:00 split at five kilometers and 29:35 at the 10-kilometres marker. Chebet was very attentive in the big group which mostly was led by the Kenyans Gideon Kipketer and Vincent Yator. The two ran a steady pace of around fifteen minutes for five kilometres and brought 18 runners through half way in 1:03:05, which was more that half a minute slower than foreseen.
After midway some runners lost contact with a group of 13 still at the front: Chebet, compatriots Peter Kirui and Elias Kemboi, Eassa Rashed of Qatar, and the Ethiopians Feyisa Bekele, Abrha Gebresetsadik, Abraham Girma, Bentayehu Assefa and Mulugeta Wami with the pace makers Kipketer, Yator, Ezekiel Chebii and Nicholas Kipkemboi. They passed 25 kilometres in 1:14:39 and 30-km in 1:29:50. Then Kirui, Kemboi and Wami started having problems following the pace.
At 35 kilometres Chebet, Assefa, Gebretsadik, Bekele and Girma were leading in 1:44:59. Two kilometres behind the 35-k marker Chebet made his move. With long strides he opened very fast a gap and went on to win.
"I am very happy with this victory," he said. "Amsterdam is a very nice place for me."
After Chebet's finish the spectators in the Olympic Stadium saw an all-Ethiopian battle between three athletes who were contesting their first Marathon. The three all clocked under 2:07:00.
In the women's race Hailu, Genet Getaneh and Goitetom Haftu (all Ethiopians) and the Kenyans Eunice Kirwa and Diane Chepkemoi ran close to each other until 20 kilometres (1:07:24) with Hafu losing contact around half way (1:11:15). Chepkemoi was the next victim of the quick pace. Between 30 and 35-k Getaneh could not follow any longer. Hailu and Kirwa passed 35-k in 1:57:34. But then Hailu proved to be the strongest in the fain phase. By 40-k (2:13:56) she was ten seconds ahead. In the final two kilometres the World Half Marathon champion gained 32 seconds on her last remaining opponent.
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF
MEN - 1. Wilson Chebet, KEN 2:05:41 CR, previous 2:05:44 Getu Feleke (Eth) 2010 2. Bentayehu Assefa, ETH 2:06:22 debut 3. Abrha Gebretsadik, ETH 2:06:23 debut 4. Feisa Bekele, ETH 2:06:26 debut 5. Abraham Girma, ETH 2:06:48 PB 6. Mulugeta Wami, ETH 2:07:11 PB 7. Gideon Kipketer, KEN 2:08:14 debut 8. Elias Kemboi, KEN 2:08:51 9. Henri Sugut, KEN 2:09:07 10. Peter Kirui, KEN 2:09:15 11. Essa Rashed, QAT 2:09:22 PB 12. Michel Butter, NED 2:09:58 PB 13. Shumi Dechase, ETH 2:13:50 14. Musa Babo, ETH 2:14:06 PB 15. Kazuhiro Maeda, JPN 2:14:37 16. David Barmasai, KEN 2:15:32 17. Abebe Dinkesa, ETH 2:15:48 18. Mihael Krassilov, KAZ 2:16:08 debut 19. Ronald Schroer, NED 2.16.19 PB 20. Rens Dekkers, NED 2:17:19
WOMEN - 1. Meseret Hailu, ETH 2:21:09 PB CR, previous 2:22:08 Tiki Gelana (Eth) 2011 2. Eunice Kirwa, KEN 2:21:41 PB 3. Genet Getaneh, ETH 2:25:38 PB 4. Diane Chepkemoi, KEN 2:27:32 5. Goitetum Haftu, ETH 2:33:57 6. Leila Luik, EST 2:40.12 PB 7. Gemma Rankin, GBR 2:41:57 8. Liina Luik, EST 2:45:04 PB 9. Jessica Gunnarsson, NOR 2:49:25 10. Mariska Dute, NED 2:49:39