15 APR 2000 Report

London Marathon report

Pinto sets European men’s best, as Loroupe confirms her status as the women’s world number one
Chris Turner for the IAAF

16 April 2000 - The 2000 Flora London Marathon, the 20th running of the London race, saw impressively assured victories for Portugal’s Antonio Pinto, who set new European and course figures, in the men’s race and Kenya’s Tegla Loroupe, the world’s fastest marathon runner in the women’s.

Women:

Surprisingly, after a week of persistent rain and wind in London, the women’s elite race got under way at 9am this morning in almost ideal weather conditions. With only a slight wind, little cloud cover and a temperature of about 7 degrees centigrade, the designated pace makers Kenya’s Pamela Kimaiyo and Nastja Wijenberg of the Netherlands led the women through the first miles (1st mile 5.46mins). Yet even as early as 4 miles, the pack of main contenders which included Tegla Loroupe and last year’s London winner Joyce Chepchumba, decided to run their own tactical race and the two pace makers were left to run over 30 seconds ahead of them.

However, as the two leaders who were also joined by Russia’s Lyubov Morgunova reached Tower Bridge for the first time just before half way in the race, the main pack were at last starting to close on them. The race then properly began and not long after passing half way at 1:15:19, Australia’s Kerryn McCann (2:28:44 PB) took the initiative and made an aggressive move to split up the field. At 19 miles (1:46:37) McCann was still pressing the pace. In contention directly behind her were a group of eight which included, an elite posse of four athletes, Lidia Simon, Tegla Loroupe, Joyce Chepchumba and Adriana Fernandez, last year’s runner up. Then at about 20 miles, reigning champion Chepchumba threw her gloves off as if to indicate her challenge was about to begin in ernest. Quickly the leading group was paired down to just five runners, consisting of the four runners previously mentioned and the inspired Mc Cann.

Back to Tower Bridge for the second and final time, Loroupe was in command but Lidia Simon who beat Loroupe in Osaka in 1999, remained close on the Kenyan’s heels. In third, Chepchumba was making a brave bid to hold on to her London title. However, Loroupe was not going to be challenged and gradually pulled away from the Romanian and was never seriously challenged again.

Infact the first three positions were not to change at all and the race finished with Loroupe crossing the finish line in 2:24:33 followed by Simon (2:24:46) and Chepchumba (2:24:57). In fourth was last year’s runner up Adriana Fernandez of Mexico (2:25:42) with earlier pace setter Kerryn McCann finishing a brave fifth in a wonderful new personal best, dipping just a second under 2:26.

If there had ever been a serious doubt that Loroupe was the world’s best, then the ease of her victory today dispelled any of these thoughts. Arguably the field of challengers which included seven women who had run under 2:26 and the reigning world champion Jong Song-ok, could not have been much stronger and in this illustrious company Loroupe proved she has no equal.

Amazingly, Loroupe revealed after the race that she was running with a slight injury to her left hip and was worried throughout the first half of the race that something might happen to the injury. "I was so scared, that something might go at any time!" About her Olympic ambitions she was not prepared to make any predictions, only saying she would "wait to see how she recovered from London first".

However, second place Lidia Simon was much more sure of her future goal. Sydney was her "most important aim". Also, she was sure she could have run better today, had she not already run a marathon early this year.

Men:

The men’s race started half an hour after the women’s and was fast but uneventful in the early stages. Again there were two designated pace makers, and these runners Andres Espinosa (MEX)and Daniel Lopes (BRA) led the major names through four miles at 19:17 and nine miles 43:43 and at the half marathon point the pace was just as hot (1:04:52). It was here that Portugal’s Antonio Pinto, the course recordholder, who had run immediately behind the pace makers heels to that point, started to force the tempo. He was closely followed by defending champion El Mouaziz (MOR) and South African Gert Thys, though the main elite group of runners were not far adrift either.

Yet it was not until approximately 30km (1:30:36) that Pinto made his intentions perfectly clear, surging clear of all the other contenders. Last year’s winner El Mouaziz did his best to mount a challenge but could not respond to Pinto who put in a stiff 4:44 minute mile between the 18 and 19 mile point and then followed this with another of 4:32 minutes, which effectively sealed his victory.

The course and European bests were by that time firmly in Pinto’s sights and he continued powerfully, crossing the finish in 2:06:36, to set a new European best. His success was all the more satisfying as the old European best performance (2:07:12 Rotterdam) had been set way back in 1985 by Pinto’s compatriot, Carlos Lopes the 1984 Olympic Champion who did so much to inspire the original passion for distance running in Portugal.

Behind Pinto, another six men broke 2:10hrs. 1999 London Champion El Mouaziz was second in 2:07:33 and the holder of the world best, Khalid Khannouchi was third in 2:08:36. Kenya’s William Kiplagat was fourth in 2:09:06 and not far behind in fifth, there was an impressive debut by South African Hendrick Ramaala (2:09:43). European Champion Stefano Baldini also recorded a sub 2:10 performance in 6th and back in 8th, Olympic Champion Josia Thugwane made up for recent poor performances with an Olympic qualifying 2:10:29.

Yet today’s men’s race was really about just one man, Antonio Pinto. With the exception of the two designated pace makers he was never headed throughout the race and showed a maturity and control so seldom associated with a European distance runner these days. In short, Pinto proved that on a big occasion, Europe can successfully take on and beat the best that Africa has to offer.

"No you can’t tell anything about Sydney from this race. The Olympics are about a podium finish and not a time. Here today I didn’t want to push too early and risk losing the race. I left it to the last 10km before I really started to push the pace", commented Pinto after his victory.

Despite the relatively mild weather (7 – 8 degrees centigrade) Khalid Khannouchi, the holder of the world’s best time, who was third here today, complained that he was effected by the cold. "After about 15 miles I felt the cold and so couldn’t respond when Pinto made his move".

LEADING RESULTS –

MEN:

(1) A. Pinto (POR) 2:06:36.
(2) A. El Mouaziz (MOR) 2:07:33.
(3) K. Khannouchi (MOR) 2:08:36.
(4) W. Kiplagat (KEN) 2:09:06.
(5) H. Ramaala (RSA) 2:09:43
(6) S. Baldini (ITA) 2:09:45.
(7) M. Ntawulikura (BUR) 2:09:55.

WOMEN:

1. T. Loroupe (KEN) 2:24:33.
2. L. Simon (ROM) 2:24:46.
3. J. Chepchumba (KEN) 2:24:57
4. A. Fernandez (MEX) 2:25:42.
5. K. McCann (AUS) 2:25:59.
6. D. Tulu (ETH) 2:26:09
7. M. Guida (ITA) 2:26:12.
8. L. Morgunova (RUS) 2:26:33.
9. M. Machado (POR) 2:26:41.