28 October 2012 - Frankfurt, Germany - As expected, Patrick Makau of Kenya won the 31st BMW Frankfurt Marathon on a cool bright morning in German’s financial centre. But the manner of his victory at this IAAF Gold Label Road Race, in 2:06:08, was far from expected.
On a clear, sunny morning, but with temperatures struggling to reach 2C (35F) by the midday finish, Makau never looked comfortable at the back of a leading group of a dozen. As that group diminished with successive surges, Makau dropped off the back several times, only to fight back into contention.
But when Deressa Chimsa of Ethiopia shot away from the final quintet at 34 kilometres, leaving Makau 50 metres in arrears, another victory in Germany for the Kenyan looked a distant dream. But Makau isn’t World record holder for nothing. He gradually reeled in the Ethiopian, took the lead at 39k, and opened up a winning margin close to three-quarters of a minute, coming home to the traditional, if unusual finish, on the red carpet, greeted by fireworks, cheerleaders and ear-splitting music inside Frankfurt’s old Festhalle (Festival Hall).
“My legs weren’t working today,” said Makau, explaining his sluggish performance. “They just weren’t reacting. But I found the strength in the end.”
Makau’s manager Zane Branson claimed that the runner had maintained an even pace throughout, and that the ten, 20 and 50 metres gaps he conceded in the second half of the race were simply the result of surges by rivals. It says much for Makau’s pace judgement and confidence that he stayed true to his belief that his own pace would eventually take him to victory.
A new World record was never in prospect, as the leading group strolled through the first two kilometres in 6:08, already 17sec off pace, then a first 10k in 29:56, 39 seconds adrift of Makau’s split in Berlin 2011, when he ran his 2:03:38 World record. By 15k, the gap was 51 seconds, nevertheless one of the favourites, Yemane Tsegay of Ethiopia, who won Rotterdam in April in 2:04:48, was 38 seconds behind the leaders.
Makau briefly lost touch with the leaders for the first time after halfway, although it had been run in 1:02:52, over a minute slower than expected. It was no longer question of a World record, rather would Makau finish, since he seemed to be having a knee problem.
“It was a hard race for me,” he said later. “My body just didn’t feel right. But I have a lot of experience of the Marathon. I knew from 35, 37k, I would have time to attack, and by then my body was feeling better. I’m satisfied with what I’ve run, but it’s not what I was expecting. The course is good, one of the best I’ve run. With the right preparation, it’s a World record course.”
But today, grit won out, because Makau was far from his World record, and even from the course record of 2:03:42, set by his compatriot, Wilson Kipsang last year.
In debut, Melkamu impresses
In contrast, the leading women always looked well on the way to a new course record, as indeed proved the case. At 15k, defending champion and record holder (2:21:59), Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia was heading a group of five, including her debutante colleague, Meselech Melkamu, another Ethiopian, Bezunesh Bekele, and two Kenyans, Georgina Rono and Agnes Barsosio.
Bekele was the first to drop, at 30k, but she hung in and eventually passed Barsosio to finish fourth. But when Melkamu made her effort at 37k, the remaining trio split up, and Melkamu, not only running her first Marathon, but her first race over 10k, went away to an impressive debut victory in 2:21:01, taking close to a minute off Daska’s record from last year.
In chasing Melkamu, Rono outdistanced Daska, and was a clear second in 2:21:39, also under the course record, with the defending champion well-beaten in third place, in 2:23:56.
Pat Butcher (organisers) for the IAAF
1. Patrick MAKAU, KEN 2:06:08
2. Deressa CHIMSA, ETH 2:06:52
3. Gilbert KIRWA, KEN 2:07:35
4. Peter SOME, KEN 2:08:29
5. Bazu WORKU, ETH 2:08:35
6. Albert MATEBOR, KEN 2:08:53
7. Victor KIPCHIRCHIR, KEN 2:09:13
8. Shume LEGESSE, ETH 2:10:01
9. Tola BANE, ETH 2:10:58
10. Isaias BEYN, ERI 2:11:53
1. Meselech MELKAMU, ETH 2:21:01
2. Georgina RONO, KEN 2:21:39
3. Mamitu DASKA, ETH 2:23:52
4. Bezunesh BEKELE, ETH 2:23:58
5. Agnes BARSOSIO, KEN 2:24:27
6. Zemzem AHMED, ETH 2:27:16
7. Iwona LEWANDOWSKA, POL 2:28:36
8. Lisa HAHNER, GER 2:31:28
9. Tetyana VERNYHOR, UKR 2:33:51
10. Catherine BERTONE, ITA 2:34:58