Gilbert Chepkwony after his 2:08:33 PB in Kosice (organisers) © Copyright
Running in his second Marathon, the 25-year-old Chepkwony clocked a 2:08:33 course record and personal best, to beat compatriots Solomon Bushendich and Peter Chebet, who also dipped under 2:09.
The race, which was first contested in 1924, was held in near perfect conditions, with temperatures between 9 and 12 C, with just slight winds and under sunny skies, with some 30,000 spectators lining the streets along the course.
Chepkwony, from the Gabriele Rosa camp, bettered the previous course and Slovak all-comers record of 2:09:53 set by Kenyan William Biama in 2007. Chepkwony also won his debut over the distance last spring, clocking 2:10:46 in Padova.
"I must thank my colleagues for helping me in second half of the race," said Chepkwony, a Kalenjin. "I felt well, after three years of running I have two marathons and two wins. Now back to hard training to prepare for an even faster race in January."
Bushendich, the 2002 World junior bronze medallist in the 10,000m, won a close battle for second in 2:08:40 ahead of Chebet who clocked 2:08.42. Both were personal bests - Bushendich arrived with a 2:08:52 best from his victory in Amsterdam in 2006, while Chebet, who returned to the marathon for the first time in four years, knocked one second from his previous best set in Chicago in 2003.
The pace started conservatively with 1:04:58 through the first half led by pacemakers Elisha Meli with Paul Kimugul, who ended their duties by 30 kilometres. But the runners were quicker in the second half, with a 1:03:33 closing half. Chepkwony earned 15,000 Euros for the victory, including his course record bonus.
Debutante Kipkoech Ruto was fourth in 2:18:18. The Slovak title went to Imrich Pastor for the fifth consecutive time. He clocked 2:23:55 and finished seventh overall.
In the women's race, the splits were exactly the opposite. Twenty-eight year-old Ethiopian Almaz Alemu Balcha, running in her fifth Marathon, opened with a fast 1:13:56 first half. She faded considerably over the waning stages but still won comfortably in 2:36:35. (second half 1:22:37). Her first place bonus is 6000 E.
"I felt very well, but maybe I did not have training for such a fast pace," said Balcha, who earned 6000 Euros for the victory. "After the 24th kilometre I started cramping and was slower and slower. I was not worried about first place, but wanted a better time."
Russian Kamila Khanipova, running her third Marathon, was a distant second in 2:43:49. Slovak Ingrid Petnuchova was third in 2:53:42 to take her third consecutive national title.
A record number of 5500 runners participated in all the races.
Alfons Juck for the IAAF
Leading Results -
1. Gilbert Chepkwony, KEN 2:08:33 PB, CR, SVK All-Comers, 15 000 E (1:04:58 and 1:03:33)
2. Solomon Bushendich, KEN 2:08:40 PB, 5000 E (1:04:59/1:03:40)
3. Peter Chebet, KEN 2:08:42 PB, 3000 E (1:04:58/1:03:42)
4. Kipkoech Ruto, KEN 2:18:18 PB (db) 2000 E
5. Degefa Berhanu Girma, ETH 2:18:20 1000 E
6. Augustus Kavutu, KEN 2:23:45 600 E
7. Imrich Pastor, SVK 2:23:55 (national champion) 500 E
8. Daniel Oralek, CZE 2:34:02 400 E
9. Marcel Matanin, SVK 2:34:39 300 E
10. Peter Tichy, SVK 2:35:00 200 E
1. Almaz Alemu Balcha, ETH 2:36:35 6000 E (1:13:56/1:22:37)
2. Kamila Khanipova, RUS 2:43:49 (1:21:44/1:22:04) 3000 E
3. Ingrid Petnuchova, SVK (national champion) 2:53:42 2000 E (1:25:32/1:28:09)
4. Ivana Martincova, CZE 2:59:28 1000 E
5. Marcela Kovarova, SVK 3:06:01 500 E
6. Sylvia Sebestianova, SVK 3:14:32 300 E
Half-marathon winners: MEN - 1. Petr Pechek, CZE 1:09:10. WOMEN - 1. Katarina Beresova, SVK 1:16:32