Brescia, ItalyKenyan James Kwambai took the honours at the Brescia Marathon in 2:10:19 in his first serious attempt over the distance.
Kwambai fulfilled the potential he had already shown when he won the 2004 Udine Half-Marathon in 1:00:22 and the 2005 Roma-Ostia in 1:00:45.
The race developed at a fast pace in the first half. A six-man group went to the front, passing 15 km in a fast 45:47 – on pace for a 2:08:42 - and the half-marathon mark in 1:04:33. The leading pack included two Kenyan pacemakers, Evans Chebii and Benson Barus - a former World junior champion in the 10,000 metres in Annecy 1998 and past winner of many Italian road races such as the famous Giro di Castelbuono in Sicily which he won three times – along with Kwambai, Philip Biwott and William Biama.
The pace slowed a bit at 25 km when Barus, Kwambai and Biwott formed the leading trio. After pacemaker Barus dropped out, Kwambai pushed the pace at 27 km to pull away from Biwott. The 23-year-old Kwambai ran at a sub-2:10 pace until that point when he was left alone. In the final 12 kilometres Kwambai had to fight against a strong wind which slowed the final time, but he nonetheless built a 5-minute gap over Biwott, which enabled him to notch a solid win when he crossed the finish line in the Piazza della Loggia in the centre of Brescia. He missed the course record of 2:09:17 set by compatriot Matthew Sigei in 2003.
“In the final part of the race the wind was very strong but I ran my PB and this makes me very happy. I will probably run the Berlin Marathon next fall,” said Kwambai who hails from Eldoret and trains with Sammy Korir, the second fastest runner in history with his 2:04:56 and the winner of this April’s Rotterdam Marathon in 2:06:38.
Twenty-year old Jetnet Salomie Kassa from Ethiopia won the women’s race with the greatest of ease in 2:42:42. The inexperienced Ethiopian started too fast, running at a sub-2:30 pace for the first 20 km before passing the halfway mark in 1:16. However, her pace faded dramatically after she clocked 1:31:20 at 25 km. Kassa, who ran alone in the front from the early stages of the race, broke the tape in 2:42:42. Hungary’s Katalin Farkas took second in 2:49:03.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1. James Kwambai (Kenya) 2:10:19
2. Philip Biwott (Kenya) 2:15:13
3. Pietro Cilento (Italy) 2:20:45
4. Vito Sardella (Italy) 2:21:16
5. William Biama (Kenya) 2:23:38
1. Jetnet Salomie Kassa (Ethiopia) 2:42:42
2. Katalin Farkas (Hungary) 2:49:03
3. Asha Tonolini (Italy) 2:54:23