Pre-race favourites Albina Mayorova of Russia and Laban Moiben of Kenya lived up to expectations at the Siberian International Marathon, winning the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race in Omsk on Sunday (20).
Even by Siberian standards, the temperature was unusually low with the thermometer reading 8C when the runners were on the start line. But the lack of wind or snow at least made the conditions slightly more bearable.
Mayorova and Fashchenko duel for the win
After a 13-year absence, Mayorova returned to Omsk for the first time since setting a course record of 2:30:31 in 2002.
The 38-year-old Russian has since represented Russia at various major championships, her best result being her ninth-place finish at the 2012 Olympics.
Here in Omsk, Mayorova’s toughest challenge wasn’t the conditions. Instead it was fellow Russian Oksana Fashchenko, a 31-year-old whose PB was 17 minutes slower than Mayorova’s.
Contesting just the second marathon of her career, Fashchenko had a lead of more than two minutes after 30km. Just when she looked to be heading to her first marathon victory, Mayorova closed the gap and went into the lead at 40km.
Mayorova won in 2:34:14, while Fashchenko was at least rewarded with a huge PB of 2:35:38, surely worth more in favourable conditions.
“To be honest, at one point I didn’t believe I would catch her,” said Mayorova. “At the 37km mark, someone in the crowd shouted to me that Oksana was only 500 metres away. I tried to increase my pace, and at the 40km mark I saw her. At this point I realised that she was really very tired and I had a chance.
“I think my experience helped me to save some strength for the final kilometres and it worked out,” she added. “I am satisfied with my time, it is quite good considering the weather conditions and the fact that I was not preparing specially for this race.”
Mayorova also said that she was going to run a marathon in the spring and then try to qualify for the 2016 Olympic team.
Moiben defeats the defending champion
Moiben has a PB of 2:09:13 set when winning the 2012 Ottawa Marathon, and in Omsk he underlined exactly why he was the fastest man in the field.
During the first half of the race, he had a comfortable lead over a pack which included defending champion John Kyui and Russia’s Boris Zhilyaev.
Moiben increased his lead in the closing stages, while Kyui and Zhilyaev faded and ultimately finished outside the top five. The 31-year-old crossed the finish line in 2:18:18, finishing almost two minutes in front of Kyrgyzstan’s Ilya Tyapkin, who clocked 2:20:17. Russia’s Andrey Minyakov finished third in 2:20:47.
Though the victory seemed easy, Moiben needed medical attention after the race.
“It was a hard race, because I felt cold in the end,” said Moiben. “Apart from the temperature, everything was great and I am very thankful to the local crowd for their support. I am really happy to win here.”
Kyui put his performance down to the fact that he had experienced numerous problems in getting to Omsk. After visa problems, his luggage got lost in transit in Moscow and he had to run in borrowed shoes and kit from local athletes.
Including the 5km and 10km races, more than 7000 people took part in the events.
Natalia Maryanchik for the IAAF
1 Laban Moiben (KEN) 2:18:18
2 Ilya Tyapkin (KGZ) 2:20:17
3 Andrey Minyakov (RUS) 2:20:47
4 Tilahun Aliyev (AZE) 2:25:22
5 Nikolay Shirchkov (RUS) 2:26:31
1 Albina Mayorova (RUS) 2:34:14
2 Oksana Fashchenko (RUS) 2:35:38
3 Mariya Korbitskaya (KGZ) 2:38:35
4 Olga Veselkina (RUS) 2:42:04
5 Olesya Nurgalieva (RUS) 2:42:34