Kenya’s Felix Kimutai and Nastassia Ivanova of Belarus were victorious at the Orlen Warsaw Marathon, achieving the first marathon triumphs of their careers at the IAAF Silver Label Road Race on Sunday (23).
On a chilly and breezy day, the course records were never under threat. Instead the men’s race turned into a war of attrition with Kimutai eventually shaking off the past of his challengers in the final few kilometres.
Led by pacemaker Josphat Leting, 11 men passed through the first 10 kilometres in 30:54. Eight men were still in the lead pack as they reached half way in 1:04:31, suggesting a finishing time within 2:10.
When Leting exited the race at 30km, which he passed in 1:32:28, just four men remained in the lead pack: defending champion Atur Kozlowski of Poland, Abdi Fufa of Ethiopia, and Kenya’s Alex Saekwo and Felix Kimutai.
Kimutai and Saekwo dropped Kozlowski and Fufa within the next few kilometres, going through 35km in 1:48:07. But Saekwo wasn’t able to stay with his compatriot for much longer and faded slightly in the closing few kilometres.
Kimutai, meanwhile, forged on ahead and crossed the line in 2:10:34. Saekwo held on to second place in 2:12:01 while Kozlowski took third in 2:12:38.
Jeffrey Eggleston, who has represented the USA at three World Championships, was 13th at 15km and ninth at 30km but finished strongly to take fourth place in 2:14:00.
Like men’s winner Kimutai, Nastassia Ivanova of Belarus had never before stood on the top step of the podium in a marathon. Since making her debut over the classic distance in 2011, she has achieved two runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes. But today the Olympian was able to savour marathon victory for the first time.
With no pacemaker for the women, a lead quintet of five emerged and they passed through 10km in 35:40. Having contested the Daegu Marathon just three weeks ago, Ukraine’s Olga Kotovska was the first of the early leaders to drift back, leaving Ivanova, Poland’s Izabela Trzaskalska, Ethiopia’s Muluhubt Tsega and Kenya’s Viola Yator to go through the half-way mark in 1:14:10.
The four women ran together and exchanged leads for another 15 kilometres. By 35km, Yator and Tsega had opened a 17-second gap on their east European rivals, but Ivanova had enough in reserve at the end to catch the lead duo and eventually overtake them.
The 34-year-old went on to win by more than a minute in 2:28:44, the second-best time of her career. Trzaskalska took second place in 2:29:56, taking almost six minutes off her PB, while Yator was third in 2:30:03.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF