Since winning the Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon in 2015, Josphat Kiprop Kiptis hasn’t triumphed in any other race. But the Kenyan returned to the IAAF Gold Label road race on Saturday (24) to regain his title in 1:01:50 in unfavourably warm conditions.
While Kenyans filled the top six places in the men’s race, Worknesh Degefa led an Ethiopian 1-2 in the women’s race. The Dubai Marathon champion crossed the finish line in 1:09:19 to win by 44 seconds.
Led by two pacemakers, a six-man group began to break up after the half-way point when Kenneth Keter picked up speed. His pace was matched only by Kiptis and it was immediately clear that neither were prepared to give up without a fight.
At 15 kilometres in Smetana Gardens, Kiptis managed to pull ahead and he continued on to his second victory in Olomouc after a break last year.
“I felt great on the course,” said Kiptis. “Kenneth and I both managed to get ahead of the rest and I was then able to edge past him. I’m really happy with the result.”
Keter followed soon after in1:02:14 with third place going to Amos Kibiwott Kurgat in 1:03:21.
In the women’s race, Degefa and 2015 world cross-country bronze medallist Netsanet Gudeta stayed together until the 16th kilometre. Degefa eventually opened a lead which she held to her finish of 1:09:19.
“I experienced some problems in my groin yesterday but was able to run well in the race,” said Degefa, who overcame a minor problem with her sock at 12 kilometres. “I’m pleased I was able to run to my best ability and that it was enough to secure a win.”
Gudeta followed her in second place in 1:10:03 with third place going to Rose Chelimo in 1:10:33.
In fifth, Eva Vrabcova achieved the fastest time by a Czech woman in this race, clocking 1:12:01. “I felt really relaxed and had no idea I was running so fast,” she said. “When I stopped at the refreshment stand at the third kilometre, I lost my pace a bit and was overtaken by a group of runners which cost me a few seconds and energy, but I managed.”
Distance runners from a total of 49 countries flocked to Olomouc for the race as more than 6200 took part in the half marathon. “For one weekend, Olomouc has been transformed into a world-class running city,” said LOC president Carlo Capalbo. “I’m delighted that this wasn’t merely an occasion to showcase such a beautiful city to the world, but also played host to some excellent performances by our elite athletes running for the RunCzech Racing Team.”
Organisers for the IAAF