Kenyans dominate the "other" marathon this weekend
The 2008 Flora London Marathon has come and gone, with Martin Lel tightening his grip on the title of best marathoner ever. Lel seems untouchable at the moment as he has won won three major marathons in a row (London 2007, NYC 2007, and London 2008)---all that after a near miss in London 2006 where he was second. The race was hot, hot hot, as the top three all broke 2:06 and the top six all broke 2:07. You can read our full report here, but the top ten men looked like this:
- Martin Lel (KEN) - 2:05:15
- Sammy Wanjiru (KEN) - 2:05:24
- Abderrahim Goumri (MAR) - 2:05:30
- Emmanuel Mutai (KEN) - 2:06:15
- Ryan Hall (USA) - 2:06:17
- Deriba Merga (ETH) - 2:06:38
- Yonas Kifle (ERI) - 2:08:51
- Felix Limo (KEN) - 2:10:35
- Aleksey Sokolov (RUS) - 2:11:41
- Hendrik Ramaala (RSA) - 2:11:44
While Lel was dominating the London field and staking a claim for greatness, just 300 miles west across the English Channel another race was unfolding. It was the Rotterdam Marathon, and its organizers promised the best field ever assembled in that race's history. The top five men had PB's under 2:07 going into the race, and the organizers were hoping for one of them to break Felix Limo's course record of 2:06:14. They got their wish, as William Kipsang cruised to victory in 2:05:49, beating Daniel Rono (2:06:58) by over one minute as he soloed home over the last eight kilometers. Unfortunately, the race was not broadcast in either the US or SA, so detailed analysis would be guesswork! (our advice is to plan the calendar so as to avoid being held on the same day as London in future!)
The conditions seemed ideal with a temperature of about 12 C (~54 F) and light winds. This falls right in the range of temperatures in which the fastest marathons by men have been run, and so it was not surprising that Kipsang broke 2:06. What was surpising, however, was that he did it nearly uncontested in what appeared to be a tight field---on paper, at least.
Kipsang earns his win
The pace setters did their job and kept the pace fast from the start (14:57 five km split), and at halfway seven men were together at 1:02:54. Kipsang attacked around 30 km, and by 35 km he had a seven second gap. The chasers faded as Kipsang confidently pulled away, increasing his lead to 40 seconds at the 40 km mark. He cruised over the line far ahead of Rono and the others, and the top three all set PB's:
1. William Kipsang (KEN) 2:05:49 PB
2. Daniel Rono (KEN) 2:06:58 PB
3. Charles Kamathi (KEN) 2:07:33 PB
4. Richard Limo (KEN) 2:08:43
5. Paul Kirui (KEN) 2:09:46
6. Tom van Hooste (BEL) 2:10:38
7. Daniel Yego (KEN) 2:10:41
8. Benjamin Maiyo (KEN) 2:10:44
9. Janne Holmen (FIN) 2:10:46
10. Driss el Himer (FRA) 2:12:08
Morgunova takes the win in the women's race
It was a brave run by Lyubov Morunova (RUS) coupled with a melt down by Zekeros Adanech (ETH) on the women's side. Adanech trailed by 19 s at 25 km, but came charging back to make it even with Adanech at 30 km. The Ethiopian could not answer the Russian's pace, though, and faded badly over the next five km so that at 40 km Morgunova was clear by two full minutes. In spite of such a "slow" finish, Adanech still set PB (2:27:32):
1. Lyubov (Morgunova (RUS) 2:25:12 PB
2. Zekeros Adanech (ETH) 2:27:32 PB
3. Alessandra Aguilar (ESP) 2:29:03 PB
4. Alice Chelagat (KEN) 2:30:18 PB
5. Ines Monteiro (POR) 2:30:36 PB
6. Yesenia Centeno (ESP) 2:33:01 PB
7. Viktorya Trushenko (RUS) 2:33:50
8. Shiru Deriba (ETH) 2:37:11
Big day out for Kenyan men
Back in January we wrote about the post-election violence in Kenya, and how it was affecting some of the Kenyan runners. At the World Cross Country Championships three weeks ago, Kenya's poor showing was attributed to that violence, and the speculation was beginning about Kenya's "fall" from their lofty position. For the marathons season, the big question was whether top runners like Lel and Limo (and many, many others) would be in top form come London, Rotterdam, and Boston. If the results from this weekend are any indication, the answer is an emphatic "YES." Rotterdam alone was dominated by the Kenyan men as they took eight of the top ten places, and in London, Kenyan men took four of the top ten.
What is perhaps more remarkable is that on one single day, THREE Kenyan runners broke 2:06! And another two went sub-2:07. Quite remarkable quality AND depth, and so Kenyan Marathon running is alive and well.
Admittedly, it is possible that all of these runners were based elsewhere during the violence. But we are relieved that in spite of the tragic turn of events and senseless violence in Kenya back in January, the Kenyans were well represented in these two big races and are still as competitive as ever as a running nation.
Join us this week for more post-London analysis, as well as our full Boston Marathon previews!