Dereje Debele celebrates his victory and course record at the Dusseldorf Marathon (© Victah Sailer)
Ethiopians Dereje Debele and Melkam Gizaw took the 11th edition of the Metro Group Marathon Düsseldorf on Sunday (28) as the men’s course record was smashed in the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race.
In ideal weather conditions 26 year-old Debele achieved the first sub-2:08 performance in Düsseldorf, while second-place Pius Ondoro was also under the previous course record with his 2:08:17. For the first time at the Dusseldorf Marathon, five men broke 2:10.
Pre-race favourite Gizaw was the women’s winner with a personal best of 2:26:24, the second-fastest women’s performance in the history of the race and just 35 seconds behind the course record. Kenyan Marathon debutant Rebecca Chesire ran a fine 2:27:52 for second place, while Poland’s Agnieszka Ciolek-Mierzejewska was a distant third in 2:33:36.
Debele defeats Ondoro
After split times of 64:18 at half way and 1:16:24 for 25km, a course record (2:08:27) did not look likely. The leading group ran a couple of kilometres in around 3:10 at that stage of the race, and the runner with the fastest PB – Kenya’s Paul Biwott (2:06:54) – had already lost contact with the lead group before later dropping out.
But Dereje Debele stepped in and surged ahead around the 30km mark (1:31:35). The leading group was stretched and it didn’t take long before the Ethiopian was on his own, but the race for victory was not over yet.
Kenya’s Pius Ondoro chose a more conservative approach. Instead of increasing the pace instantly, he gradually closed a gap of around 30m. It was at 37km when he caught Debele and passed him, but the Ethiopian did not wait long before putting in a second surge. This time, when he went ahead again at 38km, it was game over.
“Originally it was my aim to run 2:07. But I am happy with the victory and the personal best,” said Debele, whose winning time of 2:07:48 smashed his previous PB of 2:09:08 from the 2009 Vienna Marathon.
“Dereje lost two years because of injuries and illnesses. I knew that he trained well, but I did not expect him to run that fast today,” said Gabriele Nicola, who is the head coach of the Gianni Demadonna management group, which also includes African record-holder Mary Keitany. “But the coaches who work with Dereje are Gemedu Dedefo and Gebeyehu Berihun, and they told me that he is a very serious guy who never misses a training session.”
“At that moment [when I moved into the lead] I thought I would win it,” said Ondoro. “But then I was surprised when the Ethiopian was able to go with me and then overtook me again.”
Duncan Koech of Kenya finished third in 2:09:10, while Ethiopians Shengo Kebede (2:09:53) and Asmare Workneh (2:09:56) were the other finishers under 2:10 in fourth and fifth, both setting big PBs.
Victory for Tiki Gelana’s training partner Gizaw
Like Debele, the women’s winner is also from Addis Ababa. 22 year-old Melkam Gizaw, who was third in Düsseldorf last year and had a personal best of 2:26:52, passed half way in 1:13:11, running alongside Marathon debutant Rebecca Chesire.
The Kenyan held on well and only began to fade slightly after 36km, but the Ethiopian was not concerned and went on to win in 2:26:24, running almost exactly even splits (1:13:11 and 1:13:13).
“I was always confident. When she ran with me until 36km, I was never afraid of not winning,” said Gizaw, whose role model is double Olympic 10,000m champion Derartu Tulu (1992 and 2000).
“Originally I hoped to run 2:24 today, but I got a hamstring problem in the final 5km, so I could not run that fast anymore,” said Gizaw, who is coached by Getane Tessema in a group that also includes Olympic Marathon champion Tiki Gelana, Frankfurt Marathon winner Meselech Melkamu and World Half-marathon champion Meseret Hailu.
“To be able to train in such a strong group really helps me. It motivates me and I learn a lot,” said Gizaw, who joined the group four years ago and hopes to run 2:20 within the next two years.
Across all the events, 14,000 runners took to the streets today in Düsseldorf, with 4,250 of them taking part in the Marathon.
Organisers for the IAAF
1 Dereje Debele (ETH) 2:07:48
2 Pius Ondoro (KEN) 2:08:17
3 Duncan Koech (KEN) 2:09:10
4 Shengo Kebede (ETH) 2:09:53
5 Asmare Workneh (ETH) 2:09:56
1 Melkam Gizaw (ETH) 2:26:24
2 Rebecca Chesire (KEN) 2:27:52
3 Agnieszka Ciolek-Mierzejewska (POL) 2:33:36
4 Remalda Kergyte (LTU) 2:36:00
5 Nastassia Dashkevich (BLR) 2:41:51