Patrick Terer kept his promise when he returned to the Volkswagen Prague Marathon. After finishing third at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race last year, Terer said he would return this year and win – and that is what he did on Sunday (11).
In difficult weather conditions with some strong wind and rain in the final stages, the 23-year-old won the 20th anniversary edition of the race with a personal best of 2:08:07.
It was a close race with fellow Kenyan Evans Chebet crossing the line only ten seconds adrift. Zimbabwe’s Cuthbert Nyasango broke the national record in finishing third in 2:09:52.
In contrast, the day proved disappointing for Moses Mosop. The Kenyan, who is the second-fastest marathon runner ever with his run of 2:03:06 in Boston in 2011, finished down the field in 12th place with 2:20:37.
Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia took the women’s title, dominating the race to win in 2:23:34. Her compatriots Fantu Eticha and Ashete Bekere were well behind in second and third with 2:27:31 and 2:28:04 respectively.
Peter Kirui was one of the key pacemakers in the men’s race, taking the lead group through 10km in 30:05. For a moment it looked as though the pacemaker may even stay on to contend for victory as he had won the city’s half marathon in handsome style five weeks ago. He looked strong, in contrast to Mosop who was already a minute behind the group at that point.
While the group of ten runners carried on to the half marathon point in 1:03:34, Mosop lost much more ground, going through in 1:08:19. However the Kenyan, who was the fastest runner ever to line up for the Volkswagen Prague Marathon, showed the determination which has made him such a formidable competitor, refusing the easy option when he was clearly struggling. The route passed the athletes’ hotel a couple of times, but Mosop did not yield to temptation.
When Kirui ceased his pace-making duties shortly after 30km, Terer and Chebet made their move and carved out a big gap straightaway. “It was our plan to attack once the pacemaker was out of the race,” explained Terer, a former steeplechase specialist who took the bronze medal in that event at the 2008 IAAF World Junior Championships.
At the 35km point it looked as if Chebet could get away. But after losing a couple of metres at a drinks station, Terer was soon back in front and then it was his turn to lead. He opened a gap of four seconds in the 37th kilometre and gradually extended it to ten seconds.
Terer had to maintain his momentum because Chebet remained in contention, keeping the leader in sight right to the finish in the Old Town Square, crossing the finish line 10 seconds ahead of Chebet in a personal best of 2:08:07.
“This is a very important victory for me especially after what happened a year ago,” said Terer, who has now won three of his four marathons. In addition to his victory in Prague, he has twice won in Turin, first in 2012 with 2:10:34 and then the following year with what was then his PB of 2:08:52. The only marathon he did not win was the Volkswagen Prague Marathon a year ago, but there were mitigating circumstances.
In the spring of 2013, Terer was supposed to run the Hanover Marathon. But his visa was accidentally invalidated in Nairobi when he was about to fly to Hanover via Amsterdam. The organisers from Run Czech then managed to get him a new visa, but shortly before Terer was travelling it was discovered that the start date of the visa was wrong. Another urgent contact with the Czech embassy in Nairobi finally made sure that Terer could fly to Prague in 2013. Despite all these troubles Terer still finished third in 2:10:10 and then promised that he would return and win the race.
Today Terer, who is coached by Italian Gabriele Nicola in Kenya, made another promise to the Prague organisers: “I had hoped for a time of 2:07:30 to 2:07:50 today. I didn’t achieve this, but if I will be able to start here again next year, I promise to run 2:07:00.”
There was joy for Cuthbert Nyasango in third place. With a time of 2:09:52 he became the first athlete from Zimbabwe to clock a sub-2:10 time, breaking Tendai Chimusasa’s 2:10:57 national record from 1998.
“It is great to break his record, because Tendai was my idol,” said Nyasango, who finished seventh in the marathon at the London 2012 Olympics. “After the Olympics, I had injury problems for more than a year, so this was a sort of comeback for me. I am very happy with my performance.”
In contrast, Mosop wasn’t so pleased with his performance. “My body felt empty from the start,” said Mosop, who finished 12th in 2:20:37. “I was not able to do enough speed work due to an injury, but I will have a new start after some rest. One never knows how far one can go after injuries and I was cautious in training. That cost me 10 to 12 seconds per kilometre. The rest was lost in the process of a bad race, but I wanted to finish to show respect and to thank the organisers and the people of Prague for their hospitality and support.”
Dado back in top form
While Terer improved from third to first place in the Czech capital, there was also a Prague improvement for Firehiwot Dado.
Last month she finished ninth at the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon in 1:11:15. Not much suggested that Dado could produce such a commanding performance. But led by her manager Wellay Amare, who is a 2:12 marathoner and acted as pacemaker, she passed the half way mark in 1:11:45.
By 30km she had dropped her closest rivals, Ashete Bekele and Tsehay Desalegn. At one point it looked as if the 30-year-old could break her PB of 2:23:15, set when winning the 2011 New York Marathon, but rain and wind during the final section of the race slowed her.
“I had hoped to run even 2:20 to 2:21 but first we started too slow and then it was getting tough in the weather conditions,” said Dado, who clocked 2:23:34, the second-best time of her career.
Ethiopian women filled the top six places with Fantu Eticha finishing second in a PB of 2:27:31 and Bekele taking third place in 2:28:04.
The highly rated Kenyan Flomena Chepchirchir struggled much earlier and finished tenth in 2:40:20.
Jorg Wenig (organisers) for the IAAF
1 Patrick Terer (KEN) 2:08:07
2 Evans Chebet (KEN) 2:08:17
3 Cuthbert Nyasango (ZIM) 2:09:52
4 Nicholas Manza (KEN) 2:12:01
5 Hillary Yego (KEN) 2:12:55
6 Nicholas Kemboi (QAT) 2:13:03
12 Moses Mosop (KEN) 2:20:37
1 Firehiwot Dado (ETH) 2:23:34
2 Fatu Eticha (ETH) 2:27:31
3 Ashete Bekere (ETH) 2:28:04
4 Tsehay Desalegn (ETH) 2:31:25
5 Shuko Genemo (ETH) 2:32:19
6 Konjit Tilahun (ETH) 2:34:14