Twenty-year-old Kiprop Limo from Kenya took the honours at the 42nd edition of the Stramilano Half-Marathon on a rainy, cold and windy day in Milan, while compatriot Pauline Kahenya won the women’s race.
Kenyans Kiprop Limo, Robert Chemosin and Willy Mwangi formed the leading trio in the men’s race, passing 5km in 14:37 and breaking away from European under-23 10,000m silver medallist Ahmed El Mazoury of Italy and Geoffrey Ngugi by 14 seconds.
The gap between the leaders and El Mazoury had grown to 26 seconds by 10km (29:24), while Ngugi had dropped 20 seconds behind the Italian. It was then that Limo broke away, carving out a gap of more than 30 seconds on Chemosin by the time he passed 15km (44:10) with El Mazoury following 44 seconds behind the leader.
Despite rainy conditions and slippery cobblestones, Limo continued to push hard in the final 5km, increasing his gap to more than one minute.
Limo, third in Stramilano last year and fifth in this year’s Roma-Ostia Half Marathon, romped home in 1:01:49 inside the Napoleonic Arena Civica Gianni Brera Stadium.
Chemosin had to settle for second place in 1:03:36, just one second ahead of El Mazoury, who clocked 1:03:37 on his debut over the distance.
“At 10km I decided to push and I realized that I could win,” said Limo. “I enjoyed the race, despite the difficult weather conditions. We couldn’t run faster because of the bad weather.”
Chemosin achieved another podium place on Italian soil, following his win at the Udine Half Marathon last September in 60:03 and his second place at the Roma Ostia in 59:19, the fastest PB of the field. “I expected to win but it was the first time I ran in rainy conditions,” he said.
Kahenya makes decisive late break
Kenyans Pauline Kahenya and Hellen Jepkurgat went through 5km in 16:24, opening up a gap of 30 seconds over Lucy Murigi and Emma Quaglia.
The leading duo increased their gap over Quaglia to 37 seconds at 10 km (33:25 to 34:02), while Murigi went through 10km in 34:04, 31 seconds ahead of Fatna Maraoui and Elena Romagnolo (34:35).
Kahenya and Jepkurgat increased their pace and led by 46 seconds over Quaglia at 15km, which they passed in 50:31. The race went to the wire and was decided in the final kilometre when Kahenya – wife of Mwangi, the fifth-place finisher in the men’s race – broke away from Jepkurgat to take the first place in 1:11:19.
Kahenya, who has a 1:07:55 PB and has won the last two editions of the Paris Half Marathon, finished two seconds ahead of Jepkurgat (1:11:21). Quaglia, a former Italian 3000m Steeplechase record-holder and a 2:28:15 marathon performer, won the domestic battle for third place in 1:12:37 ahead of Half-marathon debutante Romagnolo (1:13:13).
No less than 6000 runners entered the Half Marathon which set off from the Central Piazza Castello and finished inside the Arena Civica Stadium, which will play host to the Italian Athletics Championships on 27-28 July 2013.
Like all athletics events in Italy this weekend, the Stramilano Half Marathon paid tribute to Italian sprint legend Pietro Mennea with a minute of silence. Former 200m World record-holder Mennea, who passed away last Thursday at the age of 60, competed many times in Milan at the historic Notturna di Milano and Pasqua dell’Atleta meetings in the Seventies and set two hand-timed 100m and 200m European records, clocking 10.2 and 20.2 in the Arena Civica in June 1972 some weeks before winning the Olympic 200m bronze medal in Munich.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1 Kiprop Limo (KEN) 1:01:49
2 Robert Chemosin (KEN) 1:03:36
3 Ahmed El Mazoury (ITA) 1:03:37
4 Geoffrey Ngugi (KEN) 1:04:43
5 Willy Mwangi (KEN) 1:04:43
1 Pauline Kahenya (KEN) 1:11:19
2 Hellen Jepkurgat (KEN) 1:11:21
3 Emma Quaglia (ITA) 1:12:37
4 Elena Romagnolo (ITA) 1:13:13
5 Lucy Murigi (KEN) 1:13:59