The 36th edition of the Roma-Ostia Half Marathon really lived up to its reputation on Sunday (26) with a series of impressive performances by African and Italian runners. Kenyan Florence Kiplagat, Berlin Marathon winner in 2011 and World champion in Cross Country in 2009 and in the Half Marathon in 2010, clocked a jaw-dropping 1:06:38 improving her previous 1:07:40 life time best set in 2010.
Kiplagat is now ranked third in the world all-time list behind Mary Keitany (1:05:50 in Ras Al Khaimah) and Lornah Kiplagat (1:06:25 at the World Half Marathon Championships in Udine). *
Her compatriot Agnes Kiprop, second at the Paris and Frankfurt Marathons in 2011, lowered her life time best from 1:08:48 to 1:07:22 to finish runner-up. Ethiopian Tirfi Tsegaye, who also ran the fastest time in her career with 1:07:43, finished third.
The Roma-Ostia Half Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.
Italian runners also grabbed the headlines. The fight for the Italian half-marathon title went to Valeria Straneo who broke the National record with a hugely impressive 1:07:46 which improved the previous record set by Nadja Ejjaffini who clocked 1:08:27 last autumn in Cremona during the 2011 Italian Half Marathon Championships. It was a new career best for Straneo who ran 1:09:42 finishing behind Ejjaffini in Cremona. Straneo, a mother of two children, produced a sensational breakthrough last year when she smashed her previous marathon PB from 2:41:15 to 2:26:33.
The four African runners Kiplagat, Kiprop, Tsegaye and Imana went through the 10 km in 31:56. Kiplagat pulled away after 10 km and carved out a gap of seven seconds over Kiprop at 15 km (47:43 to 47:50). Anna Incerti and Straneo ran neck and neck until the 15th kilometre (32:08 at 10 km and 48:24 at 15 km).
“I can’t believe it. I knew I was In good shape after training well in San Vincenzo but I did not expect to run so fast,” said Straneo. “I ran together with Incerti until 15 km, then I decided to pull away as I knew that Incerti was stronger than me in the final sprint. I could not believe when I saw the final time after crossing the finish-line. II will run the Rotterdam Marathon next April to qualify for the Olympic Games in London, which is the big dream of my career. I know that there are four women with the qualifying standard for London and there are only three spots but I have a big margin of improvement.”
Incerti, winner last year at the Roma-Ostia in her previous career best of 1:09:06, finished fifth but dipped under the 1:09 barrier with 1:08:18.
The fight for three spots on the Italian women’s team for the London Olympic Games promises to be particularly hot next spring with four runners able to dip under 2:27 in 2011.
Men’s race -
The men’s race was also fast. Kenyan Philemon Kimeli Limo took the honours in 59:30, one of the fastest times ever run on Italian soil.
Ethiopian Leche Shumi Dechase finished runner-up in 59:51 ahead of Kenyan junior Kiprop Limo who also dipped under the one-hour barrier with 59:55 and John Kiprotich (1:00:02).
Philemon Limo led at 10 km over Kiprop Limo by six seconds (27:34 to 27:40). The leader pushed the pace after the 10 km mark which he passed in 41:47) and increased his gap to 22 seconds at 15 km over Dechasa Leche who overtook Kiprop Limo by three seconds.
Stefano La Rosa, Italian 5000m champion and 5000m World University bronze medallist in Shenzhen, finished11th but took the Italian title in 1:02:14, a new PB.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Leading results from the Roma-Ostia Half Marathon:
1. Philemon Kimeli Limo (Kenya) 59:30
2. Shumi Dechasa Leche (Ethiopia) 59:50
3. Kiprop Limo (Kenya) 59:55
4. John Kiprotich (Kenya) 1:00:02
5. Laban Korir (Kenya) 1:00:38
6. Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) 1:00:46
7. Eric Ndiema (Kenya) 1:01:1
8. Hillary Kiprono Bii (Kenya) 1:01:15
1. Florence Kiplagat (Kenya) 1:06:38
2. Agnes Kiprop (Kenya) 1:07:22
3. Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) 1:07:42
4. Valeria Straneo (Italy) 1:07:46
5. Anna Incerti (Italy) 1:08:18
6. Shone Imana Gutemi (Ethiopia) 1:10:07
7. Krisztina Papp (Hungary) 1:11:14
8. Meryem Lamachi (Italy) 1:11:51
*NOTE: The course is not record-standard so references to all-time lists are informational only.