race favourites John Kirui of Kenya and Alina Tecuta Gherasim of Romania took the men’s and women’s titles respectively at the 9th edition of the Monaco and Riviera Marathon today.
Following thunderstorms and heavy overnight rain, the tiny Mediterranean Principality woke up to cool temperatures and sporadically sunny skies, which presented comfortable conditions for marathon running. However, after reaching the Italian town of Vintimille, the runners had to cope with a slight wind in their faces for most of the final 25km or so, as the race snaked back along the coast for its finish at the Stade Louis II in Monaco’s Fontvieille port district.
The Marathon which attracted 2000 entrants (another 1300 runners took part in the 10km which began 45 mins later) was started at 9.30am from a balcony at the IAAF Headquarters in Monaco by the principality’s sovereign, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, who had invited as his guest Britain’s Paula Radcliffe, the women’s World Marathon champion and record holder to join him for the occasion.
MEN – Kirui leads Kenyan ‘one - two’
With the race taken out and led until late-on by Kenyan Mark Kibet (eventually faded home in the last 10km, finishing 13th in 2:39:00), the eventual winner Kirui remained for a long time at the head of a chasing pack of 10 runners which was slowly whittled down in number, until by 35km, Kirui only had compatriot John Ngeny for company. However, though this tough hilly course usually makes a mockery of most form guides, the 27-year-old Kirui, who set his a personal best (2:13:29) when coming second in this year’s Madrid Marathon (24 April), made his quality tell over Ngeny (2:15:09 PB - 2004) in the final kilometres. Kirui came home in 2:19:08, over 40 seconds quicker than second placed Ngeny (2:19:52). Russian Andrey Bryzgalov was well adrift in third (2:21:20).
Kirui’s victory was much quicker than last year’s 2:22 win by Ukraine’s Andrey Chernychov - who did not compete this year - but still way off the 2:11:26 race record (Kenneth Cheruiyot KEN) which has stood since 1999.
WOMEN – Gherasim’s race all the way
The women’s race was only about one athlete throughout. Alina Gherasim of Romania, who celebrated her 34th birthday on Friday (10 Nov), was from about 5km into the race leading a group which also comprised three Russian women, Olga Bylinkina, Elena Kozhevnikova, who had sub-2:40 PBs to their credit, and Ludmila Afoniouchkina (2:44 PB) – and a few accompanying male runners. However, it wasn’t long before the front running of Gherasim, who has a personal best of 2:28:16 (2000) and numerous top international performances to her credit, split the group apart, leaving each one of this east European quartet to battle in separate solo efforts for the remainder of the course. The Paris marathon winner of 1996, who is returning to the sport after starting a family, crossed the finish in the Stade Louis II in a time of 2:43:44. Second was Kozhevnikova in 2:47:08, while in third was Afoniouchkina in 2:50:52.
Chris Turner for the IAAF
1. KIRUI John KEN 2:19:08
2. NGENY John KEN 2:19:52
3. BRYZGALOV Andrey RUS 2:21:20
1. TECUTA GHERASIM Alina ROM 2:43:44
2. KOZHEVNIKOVA Elena RUS 2:47:08
3. AFONIOUCHKINA Ludmilla RUS 2:50:52
1. FILIPPI Diego ITA:31:26
2. RAINELLI Marco ITA 32:24
3. BERNARDO Sebastien FRA 33:12
1. SCAVINI Carolina GBR 38:25
2. MOTTO ROS FRA 38:42
3. WEBER Mariana GER 39:21
Click here for full 10km results