Ethiopia’s Sutume Asefa Kebede and Kenya’s Felix Kibitok took the honours at the 47th edition of the Stramilano Half Marathon held in the centre of Milan with the start and finish in Piazza Castello on Sunday (25).
Kebede bettered the 1:08 barrier for the first time in her career with 1:07:54, the second-best winning time at this event and just 12 seconds short of the race record set last year by Ruth Chepngetich, albeit on a slightly different course.
Kibitok crossed the finish-line in 1:00:11, smashing his lifetime best of 1:03:26 set at altitude in Nairobi. A slow start and windy conditions in the final part of the race prevented Kibitor from bettering the one-hour barrier.
Asefa and Kenyan duo Ruth Karanja and Pauline Esikon went through five kilometres in 16:26. Asefa surged during the following five kilometres, covering that section in 16:07, and had a 10-second lead over Karanja at 10 kilometres.
The 24-year-old, who has a 10km PB of 31:11 and a marathon best of 2:24:00, increased her leading margin to 45 seconds and passed 15 kilometres in 48:36, having covered the previous five kilometres in 16:03.
Asefa crossed the finish line in 1:07:54, taking 46 seconds off the PB she set at last year’s Karlovy Vary Half Marathon. Karanja finished more than two minutes adrift to take second place in 1:10:15, while compatriot Esikon was third in 1:12:37, repeating her finishing position from last year.
“I am very happy with the win,” said Asefa. “The weather conditions were ideal and I really liked the course.”
Kenyan pacemaker James Kibet led a 10-man pack which included Felix Kibitok, Simon Cheprot, Kiktor Kiplimo, Ambesa Tesfaye from Ethiopia, Joel Mwangi Maina, Joel Kipkemei Melly, Shumay Mogos Solomon from Eritrea, Paul Mwangi and Hosea Macharinyang.
The pack passed through the first five kilometres in 14:27 and reached 10 kilometres in 28:50. Kibitok, Mwangi and Solomon broke away after 12 kilometres and reached 15 kilometres in 42:56.
Kibitok produced the decisive surge, increasing his pace in the final six kilometres and crossing the finish line in 1:00:11 with a 29-second gap over Solomon, who is coached by Italian former international Ruggero Pertile. Both Kibitok and Solomon set lifetime bests.
Two years after finishing second in this race, Mwangi finished third in 1:00:42.
“I am happy with the win but I am a bit disappointed because my goal was to run under the one-hour barrier,” said Kibitok. “The race was a bit slow in the first kilometres and I fell at the start. These factors prevented me from achieving the time I was aiming for. I will continue to invest on training to fulfil my goal in the future. I realised at 12km, when we broke away from the rest of the field, that I could win.”
No fewer than 50,000 amateur runners took part in the popular 10km mass race from Piazza del Duomo to the Arena Civica Gianni Brera in a sunny and warm morning.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1 Felix Kibitok (KEN) 1:00:11
2 Shumay Mogos Solomon (ERI) 1:00:40
3 Paul Kariuki Mwangi (KEN) 1:00.42
4 Joel Mwangi Maina (KEN) 1.01:33
5 Ambesa Tesfaye (ETH) 1:01:53
1 Sutume Asefa Kebede (ETH) 1:07:54
2 Ruth Karanja Waithira (KEN) 1:10:15
3 Pauline Esikon Nagaroi (KEN) 1:12:37
4 Philes Ongori (KEN) 1:12:40
5 Mary Wanjohi Wangari (KEN) 1:12:54