Stephen Kipgosgei Biwott won the 17th Maratona d'Italia Memorial Enzo Ferrari with a personal best 2:11:16, more than five minutes better than his previous best of 2:16:22 set in Madrid in April. Second was another Kenyan, David Kiptanui Chepwony, who reached the finish in 2:12:59, nearly two minutes faster than his previous lifetime best. Vasyl Matvichuk, a former European junior champion in the 10,000m, also improved his PB to 2:12:34 to finish third.
Daniel Cheribo, winner of last fall's Milano City Marathon in 2:08:38, acted as a pacemaker on the Maranello to Carpi course until the 30 km point as a test for his upcoming appearance at the ING New York City Marathon on 6 November. Cheribo led the first part of the race at a sub-2:10 pace - 15:11 at 5 km, 30:18 at 10 km and 46:01 at 15 km - on a downhill section of the course's first third. Eight men stayed with him: Kenyans Kiptanui Chepkwony, Kipkosgei Biwott, Benjamin Kiptarus, William Kipchumba, David Cherui and Joseph Kiprotich Ngeny, along with Matvichuk and Tsegaye Halefom Abebe of Ethiopia.
Cheribo still lead through 20 kilometres (1:01:47) when the pace slowed. The race did not witness dramatic changes until the 30 km point, after Cheribo reached the half in 1:05:06 and 25 km in 1:17:25. The race reached its climax at 30 km (1:32:45) when Biwott, Ngeny, Chepkwony upped the tempo to pull away from the rest of the field. The leading trio built a 13-second lead over Kipchumba, with Matvichuk sixth, nearly a minute back.
Biwott launched his decisive attack with six kilometres to go. At 37 km, Biwott had built a solid margin of 18 seconds over Kiprotich Ngeny while Matviychuk closed the gap on Kipchumba and Kiptarus, raising his hopes to clinch a spot on the podium. The Ukranian finally overhauled the Kenyans in the final stages.
"I could not run faster today because we had some problems with the pacemakers at the beginning of the race," said Biwott, whose younger brother, Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, was the winner in Milan in 2002 and at the Boston Marathon in 2003. "Moreover, wind blew along the course and this slowed the final time." Biwott recently trained in Eldoret, Kenya with 2005 Flora London Marathon winner Martin Lel.
Chepkwony, who started as a designated pacemaker until the 30 km, decided to finish the race, a decision rewarded with his runner-up spot.
"I was in good shape and the conditions during the race were good," Chepkwony said. "For this reason I thought that I could try to finish the race."
Matvichuk celebrated his first major marathon result of his career, a hefty improvement from his previous PB of 2:16:12 set last year in New York.
"I wanted to break the Ukranian record, Matvichuk said, referring to Alexandr Kuzin's 2:11:06 set on on the same Carpi course in 2002. "But I am confident that I can run faster in the future. I decided to turn seriously to marathon races last year when I was inspired by Stefano Baldini's Olympic win in Athens last summer. I was aware that with African dominance I had no chances in the 5000 and the 10000 metres," he continued, "so I am focusing on the marathon for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008." Matvichuk competes for the Italian club Cover Mapei Verbania, along with compatriot Sergiy Lebid, and trains most of the year in Italy.
Romina Sedoni of Italy took a gun-to-tape win in the women's race in 2:36:45, the second fastest of her career after her 2:36:32 from two years ago in Carpi. For Sedoni, coached by Maurizio Lorenzetti with the supervision of the former marathon specialist Massimo Magnani, it is the eighth fastest time in Italy this year.
"The downhill part of the race was very fast," Sedoni said. "I was in line with my new PB running at a 2:31- 2:32 pace at 15 km but the second part of the race was harder."
Italy's Luciano Acquarone set the M75 veteran world record with his 3:10:57 performance.
1. Stephen Kipkosgei Biwott, KEN 2:11:16
2. David Kiptanui Chepkwony, KEN 2:12:30
3. Vasyl Matviychuk, UKR 2:12:34
4. Benjamin Kiptarus, KEN 2:13:42
5. Joseph Kiprotich Ngeny, KEN 2:14:00
6. William Kipchumba, KEN 2:15:06
7. David Siya Cherui, KEN 2:20:12
8. Tsegaye Halefom Abebe, ETH 2:23:39
1. Romina Sedoni, ITA 2:36:45
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF