Florence, ItalyPaul Kipkemboi Ngeny won the 24th edition of the Florence Marathon in 2:12:50 in his debut over the 42 km distance. Italian top runners Alberico Di Cecco and Daniele Caimmi who battled for berths for next summer’s Olympic Games in Bejing finished respectively second and third in 2:13:52 and 2:14:47.
Vincenza Sicari scored a back-to-back win repeating last year’s victory in 2:33:14 but struggled in the final kilometres because of physical problems.
The final results were affected by humid weather conditions due to the rain which fell during the night which made the course slippery.
Men’s Race -
Pacemakers Eljah Nyabuti, Rutto Kiplagat and Justus Kiprono took the early lead running the first 5 km split in 15:02 in the first section of the race run on a downhill course. Daniele Caimmi, Alberico Di Cecco and Denis Curzi followed in the chasing group three seconds behind the Kenyan pacers at 15 km (45:48).
The pace at the halfway mark (1:04:37) was slower than planned on the eve of the race but still brisk. At this point the three Kenyans were still in the lead with a gap of 16 seconds on Caimmi, Ngeny, Curzi, Kimeli Kemei and Di Cecco.
The pace slowed down at 30 km when Nyabuti ended his pacemaking task. Ngeny passed the 35 km mark in 1:49:05 building up a 25 second-gap over the Italian duo formed by Caimmi and Di Cecco.
Caimmi began suffering from cramp problems after the 35th km. Di Cecco increased his gap on Caimmi to 34 seconds.
Ngeny secured his first major victory at 40 km when he built up a confortable margin of 40 seconds on Di Cecco. The final difficult section of the race took its toll on the pace which slowed down. Ngeny broke the tape in 2:12:48 beating Di Cecco by 1:03.
“The race was very good. I really enjoyed running on this course but I had a problem with water during the race. I want to continue improving in my next Marathons. I want to run big races in Boston and New York in the future,” said Ngeny who was the eighth Kenyan to win in the Tuscan city. Ngeny spends part of the year in Colombaro near Brescia and is coached by Claudio Berardelli
Di Cecco, the third Italian marathon runner in history with his 2:08:02 set in Rome 2005, finished runner-up in his second marathon race of 2007. “I am pleased with my final result but the time is not so positive. The course is very good but the problem today was that it was slippery. I ran this race to set a fast time but the wet course was the cause of cramps for many marathon runners,” said Di Cecco.
Vincenza Sicari started to run a sub-2:30 race to fulfil her dream to book a berth for the Olympic Games in Bejing but, as last year, she had to battle with physical problems in the very challenging part of the race in the last kilometres and could not run faster than 2:33:14.
The Italian runner, who ran her lifetime best of 2:30:35 at the Padua Marathon last April, set a fast rhythm in the early stage of the race inside the pace she planned to run on the eve of the race with the goal to dip under the 2:30 barrier. She passed the halfway mark in 1:14:30 building up a comfortable margin over Ethiopian Hirut Lagesse Abera.
Sicari kept running at a sub-2:30 pace but began suffering from a foot problem and struggled in the final 12 kilometres. Her problems became more evident in the final part of the race (40 km split run in 4:07). Her victory was never in danger but her hopes to dip under 2:30 vanished on the slippery final part in the “heart” of the fascinating tuscan city. She had to bite her teeth visibly suffering from her effort and crossed the finish line in 2:33:14.
“I am very disappointed despite the win. A foot problem from the 31 km forced me to run badly,” said Sicari.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1. Paul Ngeny Kipkemboi (Kenya) 2:12:50
2. Alberico Di Cecco (Italy) 2:13:52
3. Daniele Caimmi (Italy) 2:14:47
4. Denis Curzi (Italy) 2:15:11
5. Kennedy Kemei Kimeli (Kenya) 2:17:17
1. Vincenza Sicari (Italy) 2:33:14
2. Abera Legesse Hirut (Ethiopia) 2:44:41