The husband-wife duo of Paul Lonyangata and Purity Rionoripo won their respective titles at the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday (9).
Rionoripo broke the women’s course record, clocking 2:20:55 while Longyangata won the men’s race in 2:06:10.
As expected the women’s race provided a wide-open contest. Frenchman Frederic Bouvier, who was responsible for setting the tempo, guided the lead group through the first five kilometres in 16:51 and through ten in 33:32.
The pack passed the halfway checkpoint in 1:10:19 suggesting a winning time well inside the 2:21:06 course record set in 2013 by Feyse Tadesse. Still led by Bouvier, the group was composed of six athletes including Netsanet Gudeta, defending champion Visiline Jepkesho, Yebrgual Melese, Fiomena Cheyech and the Kenyan pair of Rionoripo and Agnes Barsosio.
Just before the 30 kilometre mark, Ethiopia’s Gudeta was the first to fall back, before Melese began to struggle as well with the pace set by Kenya’s Jepkesho.
But she couldn’t handle the pace when Rionoripo produced her first surge at 36 kilometres. The 2015 Lisbon marathon winner hit the 40-kilometre checkpoint in 2:13:31, two seconds ahead of Barsosio and 13 seconds ahead of Jepkesho.
Then Barsosio, who won the 2012 Dusseldorf Marathon, rejoined the leader, which resulted in a fierce battle between the Kenyans in the race’s closing stages. Rionoripo then managed to break away again in the final kilometre and eventually broke the tape in 2:20:55, improving the race record by 11 seconds.
“I’m so happy. It’s a great day for me to win this race,” said Rionoripo, who smashes her lifetime best by nearly four minutes to move up to second on the 2017 world list.
Barsosio came home second, two seconds back while smashing her best by 3:08. Fiomena Cheyech rounded out the podium with a personal best of 2:21:22.
In the men’s race, a large group of about 20 runners covered the opening slightly downhill five-kilometre stretch in 14:39, suggesting a possible finish time of about 2:03:40, well under the 2:05:04 course record set by Kenenisa Bekele in 2014 in his debut over the distance.
But the tempo soon slowed down as the lead pack reached 10 kilometres in 29:43, a 15:04 split for the second five-kilometre section. Still headed by the pacemakers, the leading group of 15 men went through the halfway point in 1:02:56.
As the last rabbit Simon Cheprot drifted back after reaching 30 kilometres in 1:29:38, the fastest man in the field, Kenyan Stephen Chebogut who holds a 2:05:52 career best, decided to move to the front to test his opponents. At that point there were seven men in contention for the victory including Asbel Kipsang, Abayneh Ayele, Yitayal Atnafu, Lonyangata and Solomon Yego.
One kilometre later Lonyangata made his first move breaking up the lead pack behind him. While Yego, Atnafu and Chebogut managed to stay with him, Ayele and Kipsang began to fade. Lonyangata‘s impressive display of strength was confirmed when he again ratcheted up the pace with four kilometres remaining.
Chebogut couldn’t respond to this attack as Atnafu, ten metres behind the leader, tried to sustain the rhythm and stick with Lonyangata. But Lonyangata proved the stronger, continuing to extend his lead. He eventually crossed the line in 2:06:10, 1:07 faster than his previous best.
“I feel very good, my goal was to win,” said the 24-year-old Kenyan, who collected his first marathon victory since winning in Shanghai two years ago. “The conditions were perfect.”
Chebogut, who won the 2015 Eindhoven Marathon, finished second in 2:06:58, 15 seconds ahead of Yego.
The first Frenchman, Hassan Chahdi, finished 12th in a PB of 2:10:20, well under the 2:12:00 qualifying standard for the IAAF World Championships London 2017.
Quentin Guillon for the IAAF
1 Paul Lonyangata (KEN) 2:06:10
2 Stephen Chebogut (KEN) 2:06:58
3 Solomon Yego (KEN) 2:07:13
4 Yitayal Atnafu (ETH) 2:07:19
5 Abayneh Ayele (ETH) 2:07:40
1 Purity Rionoripo (KEN) 2:20:55
2 Agnes Barsosio (KEN) 2:20:57
3 Fiomena Cheyech (KEN) 2:21:22
4 Visiline Jepkesho (KEN) 2:21:36
5 Yebrqual Melese (ETH) 2:22:51