Sub-60-minute performances have in recent years become commonplace at the ABN-AMRO City-Pier-City Half Marathon in Den Haag (The Hague), but the 39th edition today (10) saw temperatures of just 1°C and strong cold winds as no one dipped under an hour.
Edwin Kipyego of Kenya won the men’s race in a personal best of 60:05, while Laurane Picoche of France was the top woman, winning in 71:45 on her Half-marathon debut.
Snow was falling in the Netherlands just a quarter of an hour before the start of the event, but it stopped just in time for the race.
The first half of the race, where athletes run in the direction of the nearby North Sea, was rather fast. A large group, led by Kipyego and fellow Kenyan Ezekiel Chebii, passed the 5km marker in 14:02 followed by ten other runners.
However, the fast pace took its toll and at 10km there were just two leaders – Kipyego and his compatriot Henry Kiplagat. The two were followed by Ethiopia’s Abere Belay and Kenyans Chebii, Kennedy Kimutai, Alfers Lagat and Alfred Cherop.
Fighting a strong headwind on the boulevard of Scheveningen along the North Sea, Kipyego made a break and passed the 15km mark in 42:17, eleven seconds ahead of Kiplagat. Running strong, Kipyego continued to extend the lead and passed through 20km in 56:58, more than forty seconds ahead of Kiplagat.
Kipyego crossed the finish line in 60:05, smashing the 60:54 PB he set last month at the RAK Half Marathon. Kiplagat followed 50 seconds behind as Belay crept under 61 minutes in third place.
“It was very cold and windy,” said the 22-year-old. “I’m very happy with this victory. It is my second win in a big race after the win in New Delhi last September.”
The women’s race was a one-sided affair. Twenty-seven-year-old Laurane Picoche of France, competing in her first Half-marathon, led from the start. Tone Ilstad Hjalmarsen of Norway was the only woman who could follow Picoche in the beginning. She was four seconds back at the 5km marker but quickly lost ground.
Just before half way (10km) Hjalmarsen was already 58 seconds back while Picoche – a former middle-distance specialist with a respectable 2:01.95 PB for 800m – continued her journey into unknown territory.
Picoche, who finished fifth at the European Cross Country Championships last December, went on to win by two-and-a-half minutes in 71:45. Hjalmarsen, the Norwegian 10,000m champion, clocked 74:15 in second place, 43 seconds ahead of Marta Esteban of Spain.
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF
1 Edwin Kipyego (KEN) 60:05 (14:02, 27:53, 42:17, 56:58)
2 Henry Kiplagat (KEN) 60:55
3 Abera Belay (ETH) 60:58
4 Kennedy Kimutai (KEN) 61:00
5 Ezekiel Chebii (KEN) 61:20
6 Tesfaalem Mehari (ETH) 61:32
7 Alfers Lagat (KEN) 61:34
8 Tebalu Zawuda (ETH) 62:12
9 Vincent Yator (KEN) 62:12
10 Alfred Cherop (KEN) 62:23
1 Laurane Picoche (FRA) 71:45 (16:48, 33:30, 50:44, 68:05)
2 Tone Ilstad Hjalmarsen (NOR) 74:15
3 Marta Esteban (ESP) 74:58
4 Marieke Falkmann (NED) 75:28
5 Gladys Ganiel O'Neill (IRL) 75:51
6 Stefanie Bouma (NED) 75:53
7 Sara Sig Moeller (DEN) 76:07
8 Laura Markovaara (FIN) 76:34