Birhanu Legese wins the Kolkata 25km (© Procam International)
Kenya’s Edwin Kipngetich Koech produced the Shenzhen Marathon’s first ever sub-2:10 performance, while Ethiopia’s Mulu Seboka improved the women’s course record by more than six minutes at the IAAF Silver Label road race on Sunday (16).
The 26-year-old Koech enjoyed a comfortable sole lead after 25 kilometres to wrap up the victory in 2:09:44, which was also his second sub-2:10 run behind his personal best of 2:07:13 achieved in Milan last April.
A leading group of more than 10 runners paced the race in the early stages. Only five men were left when the leaders passed the 20-kilometre mark, and that pack was trimmed to just three runners – Koech, his compatriot Samuel Ndungu and Bekele Muluneh of Ethiopia – by the time they hit 25 kilometres in 1:17:09.
After covering the five-kilometre section between 25 and 30 kilometres in 14:41, Koech broke and built up a lead of more than half a minute and never looked back before breaking the tape in style.
The 21-year-old Muluneh improved his PB by 40 seconds to finish second in 2:11:19. Ndungu, a two-time Lake Biwa marathon winner with a PB of 2:07:04, settled for third place in 2:12:15.
Pre-race favourite Seboka lived up to expectations in the women’s race. She won in 2:27:12 to improve on her runner-up finish from last year while taking down the course record of 2:33:25 set by last year’s winner Viktoria Poliudina of Kyrgyzstan.
Seboka broke away from Kenyan veteran Flomena Chepchirchir near the halfway mark and when she passed the 25-kilometre water stations in 1:26:27, the margin had been widened to some 10 seconds.
The 34-year-old Ethiopian kept extending her lead and claimed the convincing win with an advantage of nearly five minutes.
It is Seboka’s second title in China this year as she also won the Dalian International Marathon in 2:28:59 seven month ago. The in-form Ethiopian has finished within 2:30 in each of her three outings in 2018 with a season’s best of 2:25:01 registered in Seoul.
The 37-year-old Chepchirchir, who finished 10th in Shenzhen last year, took second place in 2:32:05, which was her best mark since achieving her PB of 2:23:00 back in 2013.
Ashu Kasim of Ethiopia was a remote third-place finisher with a clocking of 2:38:35.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF
Legese and Kuma take Ethiopian double in Kolkata
Ethiopian runners once again dominated the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K with Birhanu Legese and Dibaba Kuma taking top honours at the IAAF Bronze Label road race on Sunday (16).
In contrast to 2017, both the men’s and women’s races quickly turned into enthralling tactical affairs.
Without pacemakers, a large group went through five kilometres in a relatively sedate 15:37 with Uganda’s Robert Chemonges and Tanzania’s Augustino Sulle doing most of the work at the front.
The pace increased slightly over the next five kilometres but a group of nine were still together as 10 kilometres was reached in 30:35 and then slowed again as 15 kilometres was passed 45:57, allowing the leading group to increase to 11.
The next five kilometres saw just three men shaken off with the 20-kilometre split reading 1:01:04. However, if the winning time was now never going to match Kenenisa Bekele’s course record of 1:13:48 from 12 months ago, it did ensure a thrilling finish.
With two kilometres remaining, two-time Delhi Half Marathon winner Legese put in a surge which splintered the leading group. His teenage compatriot Bayelign Yegsaw was the only man to follow closely as the rest struggled to stay with the leading pair.
One by one the remaining runners dropped away before Legese found another gear over the final 400 metres to fend off Yegsaw, who doesn’t turn 19 until next February and could be a leading contender for the U20 title at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Aarhus 2019.
Legese clocked 1:15:48 – exactly two minutes slower than Bekele clocked in 2017 – with Yegsaw one second in arrears in 1:15:49. Amos Kipruto won an all-Kenyan battle for the remaining place on the podium as he just edged out Eric Kiptanui, both men given the same time of 1:15:52.
“Indian races seem to be good for me,” said Legese. “I haven’t always won but I have nearly always run well.”
The women’s race unfolded in similar fashion with a large group going through five kilometres in 18:27 before 10 runners remained at the front together, going through 10 kilometres in 36:09 as no one had been prepared to push the pace particularly hard.
The same 10 were still together as 15 kilometres was reached in 54:29 with pre-race favourite and defending champion Degitu Azimeraw content to sit back in the middle of pack and let others keep the pace ticking over at the front.
Eight runners were still in contention at 20 kilometres, which was passed in 1:11:21, before Kuma and her little-known Ethiopian compatriot Ftaw Zeray started to push hard with two kilometres to go.
Immediately the pack broke up before Azimeraw and Tanzania’s Failuna Matanga briefly re-joined them. However, the quartet became a duo once again as the last kilometre approached and then Kuma – who clocked 2:23:34 on her marathon debut in Ljubljana just seven weeks ago – eased away to win over the final few hundred metres.
Kuma passed the line in 1:27:34 with Zeray four seconds behind in 1:27:38 and Matanga third again, like in 2017, in 1:27.45.
“I just rested for a week after my marathon and then started preparing for this race,” said Kuma.
Organisers for the IAAF
Limo breaks Mersin course record
Kenya’s Kenneth Kiplagat Limo and Ethiopia’s Konjit Tilahun took the honours at the International Mersin Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label road race, on Sunday (16).
Running his career best of 2:10:12 in the Turkish Mediterranean city, Limo shaved more than one minute off the course record set last year by Morocco’s Hassane Ahouchar.
The 28-year-old was in a six-man leading group who covered 10 kilometres in 31:37 but fell 200 metres behind compatriot Hillary Kipchumba at the halfway mark which he reached in 1:06:18. After about 26 kilometres, Limo caught and overtook Kipchumba and was never challenged again. Kipchumba finished in 2:10:43 while Benard Cheruiyot Sang completed the Kenyan sweep, finishing in 2:14:46
In the first part of the women’s race, Ethiopian duo Konjit Tilahun and Chaltu Dida opened a gap of more than one minute when passing the halfway mark in 1:14:13.
Dida was dropped by Tilahun by 10 seconds at 30 kilometres. Tilahun went on to take the title in 2:33:18, Dida followed in 2:35:44. Kenya’s Gladys Chemweno was third in 2:38:36.
Can Korkmazoglu (organisers) for the IAAF