Kenyans made medal sweeps in the male and female races of the 37th edition of the “Semi-Marathon International Auray-Vannes”, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race on Sunday (11). Evans Kosgei won in 62:41 while Rose Chelimo broke the women’s race record in 71:27.
On the morning of the race which is situated in the west of France, there was rain but this soon stopped and by 3pm the sun was back, but the temperatures were not as high as in previous Auray-Vannes editions.
The 21.1km race opened at a fast pace from Auray as the first kilometre was covered in 3:07 and the pace increased until the 5th kilometre, before the race hit the uphill leading to Baden. After this difficult incline, only five runners remained, reaching the 10km in 29:47. Evans Kosgei, fastest of the field with a 61:09 reference, was accompanied by his two Kenyan teammates Salim Saiti and Stephen Tum, and Burundeses Willy Ndowimana and Onesphore Nkunzimana, who was closing the pack.
A few minutes later, Kosgei injected some acceleration in order to test his rivals but nobody took the chance to follow. Constantly looking over his shoulder, the leader seemed unsure whether he could maintain the rhythm for the remaining half of the race. Aiming to secure his victory, he didn’t seem to chase William Cheseret’s Auray-Vannes record (62:12), indeed, after crossing the line in 62:21, the winner admitted he didn’t know what the course record was! Therefore as he was only 9sec shy of the 10 years old mark, Kosgei might now have some regrets.
“It’s a pity because I think I could have run even faster, but I was checking Saiti because I know he was in good shape”.
Saiti placed second in 62:43 and Tum third in 62:59.
In the absence of 2009 and 2010 winner Sarah Chepchirir, her young sister Gladys was lined-up in the women’s race, as did 2008 winner Alice Serser.
However, two other Kenyans made the race, Rose Chelimo and Joséphine Kimuyu. They were still side to side at 10km (33:29), but Chelimo was irresistible in the last portion of the race which was aided by the favourable winds coming from the Atlantic Ocean.
Having cruised Le Moustoir and Arradon, and beaten the difficult hill of Vincin which attracts spectators, Chelimo entered the Stade de Kercado sure of her win and sprinting for the race record. She did just that in 71:27, which cut 6 seconds off the old mark that French Nicole Levêque had held since 1994.
Kimuyu was a distant second in 72:08 and Serser completed the podium in 73:42.
P-J Vazel for the IAAF
1. Evans Kosgei (KEN) 62:21
2. Salim Saiti (KEN) 62:43
3. Stephen Tum (KEN) 62:59
4. Willy Nduwimana (BUR) 64:42
5. Hassan Benlkhainouch (FRA) 64:47
6. Josephat Muraga (FRA) 65:08
7. Abel Maina Ndemi (FRA) 65:09
8. Onesphore Nkunzimana (BUR) 65:47
9. Mustapha Bennacer (ALG) 65:53
10. Robert Sigei (KEN) 66:41
1. Rose Chelimo (KEN) 71:27
2. Joséphine Kimuyu (KEN) 72:08
3. Alice Serser (KEN) 73:42
4. Gladys Schepchirchir (KEN) 74:17
5. Francine Niyonizigiye (BUR) 77:03
6. Anzhelika Averkova (UKR) 77:30
7. Godeliève Nizigiymana (BUR) 78:50
8. Nadia Qatani (FRA) 86:42
9. Maryse Le Gallo (FRA) 87:34
10. Gaëlle Houitte (FRA) 88:34
Click here for RESULTS