Running in very warm conditions, Nahashon Kimaiyo of Kenya and Ethiopia's Merima Mohammed ran to victory at the METRO Group Marathon Dusseldorf on Sunday (8).
Taking into account the conditions, the 28-year-old Kenyan clocked a remarkable time of 2:10:54 at this IAAF Bronze Label Road Race. Vasyl Remshchuck of Ukraine (2:13:09) and Jonathan Yego of Kenya (2:13:50) took second and third, respectively.
Mohammed was the big favourite in the women's race and the 18-year-old lived up to the task as she clocked 2:28:15 to finish more than five minutes ahead of her nearest rival. Kenyan Leah Malot (2:33:21) was second, followed by Agnieszka Gortel (2:33:48) of Poland.
High temperatures of above 20° C in the shade and a strong wind ruined hopes of faster times and course records, leaving many athletes struggling. Quite a number of the elite runners could not cope with the heat and the additional wind. Some had already dropped out well before the 20-kilometre mark and the pace making did not go as planned. Germany’s André Pollmächer was supposed to guide the first group to the half way point, but he started dropping back after 18Km. It was at this point that Kimaiyo made an early move.
Having entered the race with a personal best of 2:10:36 it was a brave decision to keep the pace of Pollmächer and take the lead. None of the others dared to follow in the high temperatures with 24 kilometres to go. When Kimaiyo passed the half way mark in 1:03:55 he was almost 40 seconds ahead of a chasing group. He continued to increase his advantage and was still on course for a course record (2:08:32) at 25 kilometres.
“When the pacemaker dropped back early I had the choice of either running in the group and probably finishing in around 2:15 or trying to give it a go myself. So I went for it, but I was surprised that none of the others went with me,” said Kimaiyo, who had won the Antwerp Marathon in 2010 with 2:12:00 and had established his personal best when finishing third in La Rochelle in the same year. He just missed his personal record in Dusseldorf.
“I really wanted to break the course record, but it was simply too warm. Additionally I got the wind into my face after around 31 k. It was getting very tough then. It is a pity, because the course is a fast one."
While German debutant Jan Fitschen battled through with a time of 2:20:15 in eighth place Austrian Günther Weidlinger was in much more trouble. The Austrian record holder (2:10:47) originally hoped for a personal best, but he collapsed in the heat. He was running well through the midway mark, looking good behind two pacemakers. But suddenly he started staggering at 23.5Km. Weidlinger continued but collapsed at 25Km. He received medical treatment, but was not in a serious condition and recovered.
Mohammed dominates - women's race
In the women’s race Mohammed was as superior as Kimaiyo had been in the men’s. With the help of pacemakers she ran her own race right from the start. Already after 10Km (34:53) the young Ethiopian was more than half a minute ahead of a chasing group. By half way she increased her lead to more than 90 seconds. Mohammed, who arrived in Dusseldorf with a personal best of 2:23:06, passed halfway in 1:13:25. But in the rising temperatures she had to give up her initial hopes for a personal best and an assault on the course record (2:26:44).
“I did not feel comfortable in the heat. I am used to cooler conditions because I train at an altitude of around 2000 metres,” Mohammed said. But she still coped very well in the extreme conditions. Among those who dropped out was the defending champion Natalya Volgina of Russia.
Combining all events, around 14,000 athletes competed in Dusseldorf.
Jörg Wenig (organizers) for the IAAF