4 November 2012 - James Kipsang Kwambai won the JoongAng Seoul Marathon on Sunday (4) for the second year in a row, breaking the course record in the process.
The 29-year-old Kenyan clocked 2:05:50 to shave 2:23 from the 2:08:13 previous course mark set by Jason Mbote in 2006.
About 14,105 runners from 11 countries toed the start line at this IAAF Silver Label Road Race at 8 a.m. on the cool (10 C) morning under overcast skies and 13,070 managed to reach the finish line. This year the weather was more favourable and the rain didn’t test the runners.
Men’s race –
The men’s international elite field is composed of 16 athletes from Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco Tanzania and Eritrea who battled for the $114,500 international elite prize purse, while Korean athletes competed for $32,000 up for grabs in the men’s and women’s domestic division, as in previous years.
From the gun pacemakers Stephen Kosgei Kibet of Kenya and Ethiopian Afewerk Mesfin began their work with Ethiopia’s Dereje Tesfaye, 27 (PB 2:08:36, Fukuoka 2009) and Korean marathon debutant Lee Kuong-Jae, 22, following closely behind with the first 5Km passed in 15:17. Ten meters behind they were followed by Kenyan Benjamin Kolum Kiptoo, 33 (PB 2:06:31, Paris 2011), Ethiopia’s Gebreselassie Tsegay, 26 (PB 2:09:44 PB, Eindhoven 2009) and 34-year-old Moroccan Khalid El Boumlili (PB 2:10:35, Boston 2008).
Another 25 meters behind a third pack of 10 athletes followed, which included a Kenyan quartet of defending champion Kwambai (PB 2:04:27, Rotterdam 2009), William Chebon Chebor, 29 (PB 2:08:21, Turin 2011), Boniface Kirui and 2:07 runner Kenneth Mburu Mungara. The pack also include Moroccans Abderrahim El Asri and Hafid Chani, Ethiopian Andualem Belay (Half Marathon PB 1:00:10, Lille 2012) and Koreans Young-Jin Kim, Young-Sul Kwon and another debutant Dong-Il Choi.
At 10Km the picture changed. The pack accelerated and went through the marker in 29:56. Pacemaker Mesfin slowed and fell off the lead, Korean Lee Kuong-Jae fell behind and Kenyan Kiptoo moved to the front to lead with Tesfaye. Kenyans Kwambai, Kirui, Mungara, and Moroccans El Asri and Chani were some 40 metres behind with Chebor and Boumlili about 70 metres behind.
By the 15km point Kwambai joined the leading pack and passed through the mark in 44:43, together with Tesfaye and Kiptoo led by Kibet, leaving Chebor, Kirui, Mungara, El Asri and Chani about 100 metres behind.
The pack slowed down a bit and passed through 20 km mark in 59:58 leaving the closest chasers – Chebor, Kirui and Chani - 200 metres back.
The leaders accelerated and passed through 25Km in 1:14:58 losing Kiptoo who fell 200m back while building a 400-metre gap on Chebor, Kirui and Chani.
Over the next 5Km stretch the pack fell apart. Kwambai, together with pacemaker Kibet took the lead and passed 30 kilometres in 1:30:00. After this Kibet finished his duties and Kwambai became a solo leader targeting the course record. He accelerated over the next 5Km stretch, covering it 29 seconds faster than the previous one to hit 35Km in 1:44:33. Left without any competition Kwambai slowed by nine seconds over the next 5Km, passing 40Km in 1:59:15 to leave his nearest rival Chebor nearly a kilometre-and-a-half behind. Kwambai crossed the finish line in 2:05:50 to collect the $50,000 first place along with a $20,000 bonus for a sub-2:06 performance. Chebor was a distant second in 2:10:24 and nabbed $30,000.
Women’s Race –
Given the personal bests of the six domestic elites entered in the women’s field, the course record, 2:29:30 set by Korean Eung-Jung Lee in 2007, was never under threat.
Kyung-Hee Choi pulled away from the field by the 35 kilometre point to win in 2:39:20, more than two minutes clear of Ho-Sun Park (2:41:43) and Ji-Eun Kim (2:41:59) to collect $9200 in winnings.
Yelena Kurdyumova and Sergey Porada for the IAAF
1. James Kipsang Kwambai, KEN 2:05:50
2. William Chebon Chebor, KEN 2:10:24
3. Benjamin Kolum Kiptoo, KEN 2:10:35
4. Hafid Chani, MAR 2:11:11
5. Dereje Tesfaye, ETH 2:11:55
6. Boniface Kirui, KEN 2:12:50
7. Gebreselassie Tsegay, KEN 2:13:49
8. Kenneth Mburu Mungara, KEN 2:16:53
9. Kim Young-Jin, KOR 2:17:00
1. Kyung-Hee Choi, KOR 2:39:20
2. Ho-Sun Park, KOR 2:41:43
3. Ji-Eun Kim, KOR 2:41:59
4. Sun-Jung Kim, KOR 2:44:56