The Rome City Marathon confirmed its reputation as the fastest Italian race after both winners, David Kipkorir Mandango from Kenya and Ukrainian Tatyana Hladyr, smashed their lifetime bests on a warm and sunny day in the Italian capital.
In warm conditions, a slew of personal bests
Kipkorir launched his winning kick at 35Km and went on to win in 2:08:36. His previous PB was 2:12:18 which he set in the Indian city of Mumbai in January of this year. The 26-year-old Kenyan’s performance is also the fastest of the year thus far, bettering Kenyan Benson Cherono’s 2:08:40 win in Los Angeles last weekend.
The men’s Marathon in the eternal city also marked the comeback of top Italian runner Daniele Caimmi who finished runner-up in 2:09:28. It was the second fastest time of his career, just 29 seconds slower than the lifetime best he set in Milan 2002. For Caimmi, it is the second best time in Europe this year behind Jose Rios’s 2:09:15 in Otsu, Japan. Third placer Laban Kipnetich also dipped under 2:10 with another huge PB of 2:09:58.
The first four finishers in the women’s race also produced huge personal bests. Tetyana Hladyr smashed her lifetime best by four minutes from 2:29:34, set in New York 2005, to 2:25:44 beating Russia’s Larissa Zousko (2:26:26), Ethiopia’s Zekiros Adanech (2:27:38) and Jen Rhines (2:29:31) of the United States. The first three finishers ran inside the previous course record set by Italy’s Ornella Ferrara during her 2004 win.
Course record targeted from the start - men’s race
The race began at a very fast and regular rhythm, well inside the course record held by Italian Alberico Di Cecco, 2:08:02 from last year. Kenyan pacemakers David Kipruto Kiptum, Julius Sugut Kipkemboi and Lawrence Saina ran the first 10 km split in 30:05 (15:05 in the first 5 km and 15:00 in the 5-10 km) at an average pace of three minutes per kilometre. Caimmi and Kipkorir Mandango maintained the pace with Sugut and Saina, who led the pack through 15 kilometres (45:15). Pre-event favourite Daniel Yego from Kenya, third last year in Rome and runner-up in Amsterdam last fall, was forced to drop out in the early part of the race due to muscular problems.
The pace at the half remained quite fast (1:03:58). Nine men, led by Saina and Sugut, remained in contention through 25Km. The leading pack included Kipkorir, Kimutai Ngetich, Caimmi, Moroccan-born Bahraini Zakaria El Gorche, and Andrew Limo, the younger brother of former 5000m World champion Richard Limo.
With the temperatures rising to 20° C, the pace drifted off. By the 35th kilometre, only three men remained in contention - Kipkorir, Caimmi and Laban Kipnetich. With seven kilomtres to go, Kipkorir, a training partner of reigning London Marathon champion Martin Lel, pushed the pace, dropping Caimmi and Kipnetich.
“I did not expect to win today but when I pushed at 35 km I realized that nobody could keep my pace,” said Kipkorir, who is coached by Italian Claudio Berardelli.
Kipkorir built up a solid 40 seconds gap over Caimmi with two kilometres to go. The Italian won the battle for second place over Kipnetich and booked his berth for this summer’s European Championships in Gothenburg.
“The pace was a little too fast at the beginning but I felt very well after training with my friends Stefano Baldini and Alberico Di Cecco and the rest of the Italian team in Namibia,” said Caimmi. “I suffered from a minor groin injury in the final days of preparation but I was not concerned. I did not finish the marathon as I planned to do but I am happy that I am back.”
The last time Caimmi crossed the finish-line in a marathon was in August 2004 when he finished 52nd in the Olympic Marathon in Athens. Two difficult years followed after Athens. He missed the 2005 season due to a microfracture. Now coached by former top Italian marathoner Massimo Magnani, Caimmi showed a return to his best form.
“Daniele is back to his 2003 form,” said Magnani. “His last good marathon was at the 2003 Paris World Championships where he finished sixth in 2:09:31. The injury has made him a more mature athlete. Rome marks the beginning of his second career.”
Aggressive race pays dividends for Hladyr - women’s race
Ukraine’s Tetyana Hladyr ran the best race of her life, smashing her PB by four minutes to 2:25:44. From the outset, the Ukranian set a very fast pace well inside the course record.
The front-running Hladyr clocked 1:13:26 at halfway and was never headed. Zousko, China’s Dai Yanyan (who ran a 2:24:41 lifetime best at the 2001 National Championships in Bejing), 38-year-old Zekiros Adanesh from Ethiopia and Olympian Jen Rhines from the USA managed to stay in contention through the half.
Hladyr, Zousko and Adanesh pulled away at 25 kilometres (1:26:54), leaving Rhines seven seconds behind. At 35 kilometres the race turned into an east European affair between Hladyr and Zousko. Hladyr, a 30-year-old from Kiev pulled away at 40 kilometres after a close battle with Russia’s Larissa Zousko.
“I expected to lower my PB but improving it by four minutes is a big surprise for me,” said Hladyr, whose fiance, Olexandr Kuzin, set a Ukrainian record of 2:10:07 after his fifth place finish. “I came here to run my race and improve my PB and I did not care too much about my rivals. When I pushed the pace at 40 km I realized that I could win.” Hladyr added that it was unclear whether she would contest this summer’s European Championships.
Italian marathon star Rosaria Console, Caimmi’s wife, was forced to drop out after the 30 kilometres.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1. David Kipkorir (Ken) 2:08:38
2. Daniele Caimmi (Ita) 2:09:30
3. Laban Kipngetich (Ken) 2:10:00
4. Thomas Chemitei (Ken) 2:10:05
5. Oleksandr Kuzin (Ukr) 2:10:09
6. Solomon Rotich (Ken) 2:11:42
7. Andrew Limo (Ken) 2:11:48
8. Abdelhak El Gorch (Brn) 2:11:49
9. Abebe Hailemariam (Eth) 2:14:28
10. Wesley Ngetich (Ken) 2:14:36
1. Tetyana Hladyr (Ukr) 2:25:44
2. Larissa Zousko (Rus) 2:26:26
3. Zekiros Adanech (Eth) 2:27:38
4. Jennifer Rhines (Usa) 2:29:32
5. Svetlana Nekhorosh (Ukr) 2:35:49
6. Yanyan Dai (Chn) 2:36:52
7. Jimma Marashet (Eth) 2:37:08