22 March 2009Lisbon, PortugalWith two very different runs, Martin Lel and Kara Goucher emerged victorious at the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon.
The EDP Lisbon Half Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Men’s race – Fearsome foursome gun it out
With the runners facing strong winds in the second half of the race, World record ambitions faded, providing a good struggle for the title between four great runners, the Kenyan’s Martin Lel, Robert Cheruyiot and Gideon Ngatunyi and Moroccan Jaouad Gharib.
Until the midway point, the front was shared by eight or nine men, including Samuel Wanjiru, and the rabbit Elijah Keitany, Emmanuel Mutai and David Kemboi, all from Kenya. After that point, Wanjiru, the Olympic Marathon champion and World record holder in the Half Marathon, wasn’t able to maintain the the pace of the rabbit and allowed the gap between him and the lead pack to grow.
After passing 10 km in 28:19, the leaders forced the pace to stay on record pace, but the winds shifted and only four were still in front.
After 15 km, the ‘unknown’ Gideon Ngatunyi showed that he couldn’t stay with the leading foursome, and the podium was designed in that moment. Lel, a three-time winner at the London Marathon and twice in New York, responded very well to the late-race attack by Gharib, the Olympic Marathon Olympic silver medalist and former World champion, and another victim was found: Robert Cheruyiot. The Kenyan, six times on the Lisbon podium but without a victory, let the other two run go over the waning kilometres and after turning left to the finish line, the Moroccan made one last effort, but Lel proved the stronger, crossing the line under one hour by four seconds in 59:56.
It was the third victory for Lel, after triumphs in 2003 and 2006. Three wins, each three years apart.
Gharib was second, after his third place last year, with Cheruyiot fourth.
For the winner, “This race was good to test my speed,” Lel said. “It wasn’t an easy win, because we had great champions here. But it was a good test for my shape, because I will run the London Marathon next month.”
The first Portuguese was the veteran (40 years) José Ramos who finished ninth in 1:03:23.
Goucher’s solitary run
In the women’s race, the north Amercian Kara Goucher (pb 1:06:57), the 10,000m bronze medallist at the 2007 World championship and third place finisher last year in the New York Marathon, showed why she was a favourite, making an almost solitary race (after the first one-third of the race), but she compromised the World record passing 15 km in 49:34.
She crossed the line in 1:08:30, 30 seconds ahead of Kenya’s Alice Timbilili (pb 1:08:49), a former 3000m World junior champion, and 37 seconds ahead of Jane Kiptoo.
Latvia’s Jelena Prokopcuka, a two time New York Marathon winner, was only fourth, ahead of Leah Malot and Monica Rosa (6th), the first Portuguese to cross the line.
The winner was very pleased with the organizers. “the race is beautiful, I intend to return again and try to run faster than I did today,” Goucher said. “I’m preparing or a marathon in the spring so I couldn’t run faster. I like to run in a mixed race, with men and women together.”
On a great day for outdoor sport events, more than 5504 runners crossed the finish line in Lisbon, a Portuguese record, with the Prime Minister, José Sócrates, among them.
António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF
1. Martin Lel, KEN 59.56
2. Jaouad Gharib, MAR 59.59
3. Robert K. Cheruyiot, KEN 1.00.05
4. Gideon Ngatunyi, KEN 1.00.06
5. Samwel Shauri, TAN 1.00.33
6. Emmanuel Mutai, KEN 1.00.45
7. Samuel Wanjiru, KEN 1.01.25
8. David Kemboi, KEN 1.02.53
1. Kara Goucher, USA 1.08.30
2. Alice Timbilili, KEN 1.09.00
3. Jane Kiptoo, KEN 1.09.07
4. Jelena Prokopcuka, LAT 1.09.58
5. Leah Malot, KEN 1.11.37
6. Mónica Rosa, POR 1.14.14
7. Ayanu Workitu, ETH 1.15.03
8. Filomena Costa, POR 1.15.33