Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge in action at the 2012 World Half Marathon Championships (© Getty Images)
Kenya’s former World 5000m champion Eliud Kipchoge made a splendid Marathon debut at the Haspa Marathon Hamburg when he set a course record of 2:05:30 at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday (21).
"I promised a course record and I did it. It was great to have all the people along the course supported me," said a delighted and slightly releived Kipchoge after his victory.
Kipchoge, now 28, broke away from a five-man leading pack at 33km, splintering the group immediately before crossing the line 28 seconds faster than the previous record set last year by Ethiopia’s Shami Dawit.
No less than 15 men, including pacemakers, were in the leading pack which passed through 10km in 29:51. The leaders then ticked off almost metronomic three-minute kilometres to reach 15km in 44:52, and the pace barely slacked in the next five kilometres as 20km was reached in 59:57, just barely outside 2:06 pace.
The halfway point, with 13 men still together at the front, was passed in 63:12, just a little shy of the 62:45 that the race organisers had requested from the pacemakers in order to try to achieve a course record.
A 14:45 stretch between 25km and 30km, along with three pacemakers dropping out, saw the leading pack gradually reduced.
At 30km, reached in 1:29:45, six men were still together at the front: the remaining Kenyan pacemaker Philemon Yator, his compatriots Kipchoge and Wilson Kiprop, and a trio of the Ethiopians Limenih Getachew, Yekeber Baybal and Belay Asefa.
Three kilometres down the road, Kipchoge decided it was time to demonstrate his class and pushed hard, stringing out the remaining runners with ambitions of finishing on the podium.
Decisive move at 33km
Kipchoge had established a 14-second lead over Getachew by 35km, which the World 5000m champion from 2003 reached in 1:44.16.
Further down the road, Kiprop was another 12 seconds behind Getachew with Asefa fourth, 57 seconds behind Kipchoge.
In the next five kilometres, with leaden legs starting to appear in the men behind him, Kipchoge was still forging on and had built up a 1:16 lead over Getachew as the rest of the field started to falter, and the Kenyan passed 40km in 1:58:59.
Behind the leading pair, Lawrence Kimaiyo, the winner in Kosice last year with a personal best of 2:07:01, had moved up from sixth at 35km to third with two kilometres to go and the top three remained the same through to the finish as Kipchoge continued to stretch his lead.
Getachew, after finishing second in his Marathon debut in Cologne in 2:07:39, had another good run on German soil to collect his second successive runners up medal and improve his personal best by four seconds to 2:07:35 while Kimaiyo was a distant third in 2:10:27.
The women’s race was won by Lithuania’s Diana Lobacevske in 2:29:17 with Switzerland’s Maja Neuenschwander second in 2:30:50.
An African trio of Ethiopia’s Kidist Fiseha, Almaz Alemu and Kenya’s Priscilla Lorchima broke away almost from the gun and passed the halfway point in an audacious 1:13:53 with an all-European quartet containing Lobacevske, Neuenschwander, Germany’s Lisa Hahner and Ukraine’s Kateryna Stetsenko running together nearly a minute-and-a-half behind in 1:15:20.
Lorchima started to struggle shortly after 25km and the two Ethiopians reached 30km in 1:45:04 with Lorchima just over a minute behind in third.
However, there was drama between 30km and 35km. Fiseha still held the lead in 2:04:20 but Alemu had drifted back to fourth, with Lorchima getting her second wind and moving up to only three seconds behind the leader. Lobacevske had also started to motor and moved up to third and was just four seconds adrift of the Kenyan.
Fiseha, who struggle badly over the final 10km and eventually finished 11th, and Lorchima ran out of steam shortly after 35km but, by contrast, Lobacevske had gauged her race to perfection and put more than a minute between herself and Neuenschwander, who had moved up from fourth to second between 35km and 40km.
As Lobacevske put more daylight between herself and Neuenschwander all the way to the line, the Swiss runner held her form to finish just 33 seconds in front of Lorchima, who was third in 2:31:23.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF