Sheila Jerotich wins the Kosice Peace Marathon (© Organisers)
Before this weekend’s Kosice Peace Marathon, Reuben Kerio and Sheila Jerotich had competed in a combined total of three marathons, but the Kenyan pair came away with victories and PBs at the IAAF Bronze Label road race on Sunday (1).
Jerotich, competing in just her second marathon to date, took 10 seconds off the course record set in 2013 by Ethiopia’s Ashete Bekele and more than a minute off her PB.
Kerio, meanwhile, improved his lifetime best by a similar margin to take the men’s title in 2:08:12.
A course record in the women’s race looked likely from the early stages as the lead pack passed through the first 10 kilometres in 34:04 before reaching the half-way point in 1:13:02 with seven women still in contention.
The pace maker dropped out unexpectedly after 27 kilometres, leaving the inexperienced Jerotich to set the rhythm for the rest of the race. Her pace dropped only slightly in the second half, passing through 30 kilometres in 1:43:56 before eventually crossing the line a clear winner in 2:27:34.
“I had a great day, I felt great from the beginning of the race,” said Jerotich, who made her marathon debut earlier this year in Chongqing, where she finished third in 2:28:53. “Compared to my first marathon in China, Kosice was much better and we ran in significantly better conditions.”
Compatriot Sheila Chepkoech – herself contesting just her fourth marathon to date – finished second in 2:29:13, also setting a PB. Veteran Emily Samoei completed a Kenyan sweep of the podium by finishing third in 2:31:17, the third-fastest time of her career in what was her 30th race over the marathon distance.
In the men’s race, a 12-man pack – including and led by two pacemakers – covered the first 10 kilometres in 29:56 and 15 kilometres in 44:56. They reached the half-way mark in 1:03:37, which suggested that an attack on the 2:07:01 course record wasn’t completely out of the question but would require a slightly faster second half.
With the last of the pacemakers dropping out at 30 kilometres, reached in 1:30:38, Cologne Marathon winner Raymong Choge led the pack, which was now down to seven men. But with the pace dropping and 35 kilometres reached in 1:46:00, a course record was no longer a realistic goal.
Between the 38th and 39th kilometre, Reuben Kerio made a decisive move and broke free from Ethiopia’s Fikre Robi and went on to win in 2:08:12, taking 53 seconds off the PB he set when winning last year’s Brescia Marathon on his debut at the distance.
“I am very glad to have won with a personal best,” said 23-year-old Kerio. “After 38 kilometres I realised that I could win. I enjoyed everything in Kosice and I want to come back again next year.”
Robi held on for second place in 2:08:36, smashing his PB by more than a minute, while 33-year-old Richard Sigei finished third in 2:09:05, the second-fastest time of his career. Defending champion David Kiyeng finished down in eighth in 2:12:07.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF
1 Reuben Kiprop Kerio (KEN) 2:08:12
2 Fikre Assefa Robi (ETH) 2:08:36
3 Richard Kiprotich Sigei (KEN) 2:09:05
4 Henry Chirchir (KEN) 2:09:42
5 Raymond Choge (KEN) 2:09:53
6 Tadesse Mamo Temechachu (ETH) 2:10:49
7 Gilbert Masai (KEN) 2:11:19
8 David Kiyeng (KEN) 2:12:07
1 Sheila Jerotich (KEN) 2:27:34
2 Sheila Chepkoech (KEN) 2:29:13
3 Emily Samoei (KEN) 2:31:17
4 Worknesh Alemu Mola (ETH) 2:31:27
5 Meseret Alemu (ETH) 2:32:31
6 Tecla Kirongo (KEN) 2:32:46
7 Janet Rono (KEN) 2:34:06
8 Hellen Chepkorir (KEN) 2:34:16