The Hague, The Netherlands - In bright sunshine, a calm wind and a nice temperature of 13 degrees on Sunday 11 March, the 38th edition of the ABN-AMRO City-Pier-City Half Narathon saw five men clocking a time within sixty minutes.
Stephen Kosgei Kibet was the fastest with a personal best of 58:45. The 25-year-old Kenyan shaved over a half minute of his personal best of 1:00:09 he clocked in Porto in Portugal on 10 October 2010. Kibet made his move in the final kilometre leaving compatriot and pre-race favourite Jonathan Maiyo (59:02). Another Kenyan Kenneth Kipkemoi, who finished very strong, took third place in 59:11.
The women's race was won by debuting Josephine Chepkoech of Kenya in 1:11:20.
A group of thirteen including two pacemakers went out fast with a five kilometres split of 13:53. Pacemaker Vincent Rono dropped out of the race after seven kilometres. A group of nine continued - Stephen Kibet, Jonathan Maiyo, Kenneth Kipkemoi, Victor Kipchirchir, Bernard Koech,pace Jacob Cheshari (all Kenya) and the Ethiopians Merkebu Birke and Andualem Belay - and passed 10 kilometres mark in 27:51.
The race really got underway between ten and fifteen kilometres, with Kibet, Maiyo, Kipkemoi and Kipchirchir clocking 42:01 at 15kms, with Kipsang three seconds back. Kibet and Maiyo were pressing the pace, with the latter making a move but was reeled in again by Kibet. These two reached 20 kilometres in 55:55 and it was then that Kibet made his move and took around fifty metres on his opponent. Behind Maiyo and Kipkemoi were coming back strongly but were unable to close the gap.
The winner Kibet, who clocked the fastest time in the half marathon so far this year commented, “it is fantastic to win a great and famous race like this. I bettered my personal best with over a minute. Now I am looking forward to my next race in this country. On 15 April I will run the Rotterdam Marathon. I hope to better my personal best in that race too.''
22 of the first 25 finishers bettered their fastest half marathon times.
The women's race did not have the quality of the men's event. Josephine Chepkoech was a distant winner in her debut at the half marathon in 1:11:20. She was one and a half minutes faster than German Susanne Hahn, a former winner in Den Haag. Third place went to Dutchwoman Merel de Kengt in 1:14:31.
Over 33,000 athletes were entered in the several distances.
Wim Van Hemert for the IAAF
1. Stephen Kibet KEN 58:54 PB (splits: 13:53-27:51-42:01-55:55) fastest time 2012
2. Jonathan Maiyo KEN 59:02 PB
3. Kennerh Kipkemoi KEN 59:11 PB
4. Geoffry Kipsang KEN 59:26 PB
5. Victir Kipchirchir KEN 59:31 PB
6. Merkebu Birke ETH 1:00:14 PB
7. Bernard Koech KEN 1:00:17
8. Andualem Belay ETH 1:00:20 PB
1.Josephine Chepkoech KEN 1:11:20 debut
2. Susanne Hahn GER 1:12:50
3. Merel de Knegt NED 1:14:31
4. Marieke falkmann NED 1:14:37
5. Mariska Kramer NED 1:15:41
6. Reina Visser NED 1:15:50 PB
7. Gladys Biwott KEN 1:16:28
8.Josephine Ambjoernsson SWE 1:16:52