Kenyan distance runner Geoffrey Mutai (© Getty Images)
Geoffrey Mutai won the Udine Half Marathon on Sunday (22) in 59:06, one of the fastest times ever on Italian soil and the fourth-fastest time in the world this year.
The 2007 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, which was held on the same course in Udine, is the only Half-marathon in Italy that has produced faster times than today’s race.
Mutai, whose last loss in the Marathon was in 2010, set a fierce pace from the beginning. The Kenyan ran the opening kilometres at 2:45 pace and reached the 9km mark in 25:11, 30 seconds ahead of his compatriot Nicholas Togom.
By the time he crossed the finish line – stopping the clock at 59:06 – Mutai was almost two minutes ahead of Togom. The 21-year-old took more than half a minute off his PB, clocking 1:01:02, while Simon Ndirangu completed the Kenyan sweep in third with 1:01:35.
“I felt tired from 15km,” said Mutai, who becomes just the sixth man in history to achieve three sub-60-minute performances in the Half-marathon within one season. “I was aiming at breaking my personal best (58:58 set in Ras Al Khaimah this February) but I narrowly missed it. I thank the fans for their warm support along the course.”
Mutai will defend his New York Marathon title on 3 November, having set a course record of 2:05:06 two years ago. Judging by his performance in Udine, he looks to be reaching the same kind of form.
The first Italian finisher was European cross-country champion Andrea Lalli, who finished seventh in 1:02:30. Next month the 26-year-old will make his Marathon debut in Venice where he is expected to clash against fellow Italian Ruggero Pertile. “I am preparing for Venice and I was not ready to run my personal best but I am happy with 1:02:30,” said Lalli.
Kenyan junior Goretti Jepkoech dominated the women’s race from the first kilometre to take the win in a personal best of 1:10:06 ahead of her compatriot Joyce Jemutai Kiplimo (1:10:24) and Hungary’s Krisztina Papp (1:11:59).
“This year it was a record edition for Udine with the fastest time of the year in Italy and one of the fastest times in the world,” said Paolo Bordon, president of the Associazione Maratonina Udinese. “We also achieved a good result of participation with 2162 runners taking part in the Half-marathon race and 1080 participants who took part in the popular mass Stra Udine race.”
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1 Geoffrey Mutai (KEN) 59:06
2 Nicholas Togom (KEN) 1:01:02
3 Simon Ndirangu (KEN) 1:01:35
4 Simon Sikuku (KEN) 1:01:37
5 Peter Kororia (KEN) 1:02:20
6 Daniel Wanjiru (KEN) 1:02:27
7 Andrea Lalli (ITA) 1:02:30
8 Henry Kibet (KEN) 1:03:02
1 Goretti Jepkoech (KEN) 1:10:06
2 Joyce Jemutai Kiplimo (KEN) 1:10:24
3 Krisztina Papp (HUN) 1:11:59