After second and third-place finishes at the Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes Nice-Cannes, Ethiopia’s Shume Hailu finally stood on top of the podium at the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race when he crossed the line on Cannes’ Promenade de la Croisette in 2:09:27 on Sunday (9).
It was the second-fastest finishing time in the race’s brief history, with this year being the seventh edition, just 47 seconds shy of the course record of 2:08:40 set by Kenya’s Lucas Kanda in 2011. Hailu himself ran what still remains his personal best of 2:09:06 when finishing second behind Kanda three years ago.
The race organisers had been hoping for a time faster than 2:10 and the prospects of achieving that ambition already looked good at 10km, which a group of 11 reached in 30:42.
The halfway mark, with 10 men still in the pack at the front, was hit in 1:05:00.
The pace remained steady over the subsequent kilometres but it still proved too much for some runners and the lead group was down to five at 30km – Hailu, his compatriot Mindaye Regasa and the Kenyan trio of Barnabas Kiptum, Edwin Kemboi and Marius Kipserem – with the split reading 1:32:22.
Two seconds behind the leading group at this stage, but clearly starting to struggle, was Qatar’s Bellor Yator.
The fastest man in the field, and wearing the number one bid, was perhaps still feeling the effects of his efforts in winning the Marseille Marathon less than two months ago in 2:13:50.
Shortly before 35km though, Hailu soon decided that he had waited long enough, sensed that the others were not feeling as strong, and quickly started to open up a gap over his rivals, which stretched to more than a minute at the finish.
"I came here to win today," said Hailu.
Kiptum finished second in a personal best of 2:10:29 in his first race outside Kenya, slicing almost eight minutes off his previous best.
Kemboi was third in 2:10:39, which was also a personal best by more than a minute. Kipserem was fourth in 2:10:56, Yator fifth in 2:11:20 while Regasa had a tough final few kilometres and had to settle for sixth place in 2:12:20.
In the women’s race, a three-woman group consisting of Kenya’s Rose Jepchumba and Emily Rotich as well as Ethiopia’s Tigist Abdi were together at 30km, which was reached in 1:49:23.
The trio were more than a minute ahead of the rest of the field and, with 12km to go, it looked highly likely that they would be the three women on the podium.
So it proved, but the order was established from 35km with the 35-year-old Jepchumba breaking away before the former Kenyan international won in a personal best of 2:33:52.
Rotich was second in 2:35:21 and Abdi third in 2:37:30.
The race organisers later announced that 14,100 runners had completed the course, a record number of participants.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF