Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich and Tanzania’s Ismail Juma were the surprise winners at the Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon, clocking Turkish all-comers’ records of 1:06:19 and 1:00:09 at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday (30).
The top three in the women’s race was decided after the first five kilometres, but the finishing order only became apparent during the final five-kilometre section.
Chepngetich, Olympic marathon silver medallist Eunice Kirwa and Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa went through the first five kilometres in 15:17, 51 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
Degefa was unable to sustain that pace and soon dropped back, leaving Kirwa and Chepngetich to reach the 10-kilometre mark in 31:08. The leading duo then passed through 15 kilometres in 46:59, but Kirwa struggled to keep up with Chepngetich over the final few kilometres.
The 23-year-old went on to win in 1:06:19, taking 28 seconds off the Turkish all-comers’ record set in this race two years ago by 2014 world half-marathon champion Gladys Cherono. It was her fourth PB and victory in as many races this year for Chepngetich, who so far in 2017 has won in Adana (1:09:06), Paris (1:08:08) and Milan (1:07:42). Her winning time in Istanbul now puts her at 12th on the world all-time list.
Kirwa suffered her first defeat since 2014 at this distance but could take some redemption from setting an Asian record of 1:06:46 in second place. Degefa was third in 1:08:55.
The men’s race was closer than the women’s, but it too was also decided in just the closing stages.
Perhaps due to the windy conditions at the start, a 12-man pack covered the first five kilometres in 14:22, slower than the targeted pace of 14:10. 10 men, led by Kenya’s Vincent Yator, were still in contention at the 10-kilometre mark, which was reached in 28:32.
Yator tried to pull away over the course of the following two kilometres, but the gap closed before 15th kilometre as Juma, Ethiopia’s Terefa Debela and Kenya’s Edwin Kipsang Rotich joined Yator to form the leading group, with Adugna Takele in close chase.
Juma reached 20km in 57:05, seven seconds ahead of Debela, and then pushed hard in an attempt to finish within 60 minutes. He just missed out on his target but crossed the finish line in a huge PB of 1:00:09, taking four seconds off the Turkish all-comers’ record set in 2015 by Evans Kiplagat. Juma, who finished ninth at the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, took more than two minutes off his PB.
Debela was second in 1:00:22 and Rotich completed the podium with his 1:00:37 in third place.
Chepgetich, together with the time bonus, took home a prize purse of US$25,000 while Juma pocketed US$15,000.
Can Korkmazoglu (organisers) for the IAAF
1 Ismail Juma (TAN) 1:00:09
2 Terefa Debela (ETH) 1:00:22
3 Edwin Kipsang Rotich (KEN) 1:00:37
4 Adugna Takele (ETH) 1:00:45
5 Kaan Kigen Ozbilen (TUR) 1:00:51
6 Vincent Yator (KEN) 1:01:01
7 Peter Kwemoi Ndorobo (KEN) 1:01:15
8 Evans Kiplagat (AZE) 1:01:47
1 Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) 1:06:19
2 Eunice Kirwa (BRN) 1:06:46
3 Worknesh Degefa (ETH) 1:08:55
4 Meskerem Amare (ETH) 1:10:00
5 Muliye Dekebo (ETH) 1:10:07
6 Esther Chesang Kakuri (KEN) 1:10:07
7 Tejitu Daba (BRN) 1:10:28
8 Hiwot Gebrekidan (ETH) 1:11:05