The warm sunny conditions in the Czech Republic were welcomed by the spectators of the Mattoni Ceske Budejovice Half Marathon on Saturday (7), but the weather was not so forgiving for the elite athletes competing at the IAAF Silver Label Road Race.
While world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kipsang lived up to his status as the pre-race favourite, he was unable to fulfil his goal of breaking the course record as he crossed the line nine seconds outside the one-hour barrier.
With a temperature of 26°C and rising humidity when the race started at 7pm, a group of 11 Kenyans including Kipsang and his pace makers started off at a pace that would bring them home in a course record 59:40.
But the group broke up early on and by 3.5km four men had fallen off the back of the group. By 7km, Kipsang was leading with Henry Kiplagat a few yards behind, but the rest of the field was already out of sight.
The 21-year-old continued at a pace that would have brought him home under the existing course record of 59:48 through 14km, but the pace slowed noticeably from there to the finish, which he reached in 1:00:09.
Afterwards, Kipsang said that it was the heat that slowed him significantly in the latter stages of the race. Kiplagat slowed even more, but was still able to finish second in 1:02:46, more than two-and-a-half minutes later.
In the women's race a group of five athletes – comprising three Kenyans and two Ethiopians – ran together until 5km, but by 10km the group had dwindled to the three eventual podium finishers.
By 14km Betelhem Moges had broken free from Lucy Liavoga and she was able to continue to victory in 1:12:31. Liavoga finished second in 1:14:13 with another Kenyan, Victory Chepkemoi, third in 1:15:03, and South African Makmanya Mapaseka fourth in 1:15:52 after arriving from Johannesburg via Paris only hours before the race.
A total of 4600 runners took to the streets of Ceske Budejovice, with 2800 half marathoners and other 1800 participants of the family run.
Organisers for the IAAF
1 Geoffrey Kipsang (KEN) 1:00:09
2 Henry Kiplagat (KEN) 1:02:46
3 Silas Ngetich (KEN) 1:03:37
4 Vincent Kipruto (KEN) 1:04:35
5 Daniel Chebii (KEN) 1:04:44
6 Daniel Wanjiru (KEN) 1:05:13
1 Betelhem Moges (ETH) 1:12:31
2 Lucy Liavoga (KEN) 1:14:13
3 Victory Chepkemoi (KEN) 1:15:03
4 Makmanya Mapaseka (RSA) 1:15:52
5 Abebu Gelan 1:15:54
6 Mary Wangari (KEN) 1:17:09