The Acea Rome Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label race, saw fast times as Ethiopia’s Getachew Negari Terfa took the honours in the men’s race in 2:07:56, the second fastest time ever run in Rome, while Kenyan 36-year-old Helena Kirop Loshanyang won the women’s race in 2:24:40 on Sunday (17).
Kenya’s 36-year-old Helena Kirop claimed the victory in the women’s race in 2:24:40, the third fastest run ever achieved in Rome behind Galina Bogomolova’s course record of 2:22:53 set in 2008.
Terfa attacks at 40km
Pacemakers Matthew Kimutai, Luka Rotich and William Kibor set the early tempo in the first half of the men’s race, leading a big pack which went through 15km in 45:19 and then halfway in 1:03:43, a faster pace than when Benjamin Kiptoo’s set the course record of 2:07:17 in 2009.
Rotich then continued to be the main man to push the pace until he dropped out at the 30km mark which was reached in 1:30:37.
Nine men broke away from the rest of the pack at 35km, which was reached in 1:46:10: Terfa and fellow Ethiopians Haile Gemeda, Birhanu Gebru, Tsegaye Wolde Botoru and Bekana Daba Tolesa , along with Kenyan runners Samson Barmao, Stephen Chemlany, , Philemon Kisang and 2012 Rome winner Luka Lokobe Kanda.
The race really heated up at 37km when Gebru, Chemlany, Kanda, Gemeda and Terfa surged and pulled away. At 40km, four men still remained in contention as Kanda was dropped and his chances of retaining his title evaporated.
At that point, Terfa launched his decisive attack and he crossed the finish line in the Fori Imperiali with 15 seconds to spare over his nearest rival.
Despite windy conditions in the second half of the race six men dipped under the 2:10 barrier Gebru improved his personal best by almost three minutes to finishe 2:08:11. Chamlany, who entered the Rome race with a best of 2:07:55, finished third in 2:08:30,
It was a remarkable performance for Terfa who ran his second marathon race in 2013 just 10 weeks after winning the Xiamen Marathon in the new course record of 2:07:32.
“The race started in good weather conditions but it got colder with a lot of wind along the course. However, the weather did not cause problems because I was focused on my race. After winning in Xiamen I took a short rest of two weeks before starting the preparation again. During my training I felt well and I decided to run a second marathon. I want to help my family with the money won in Rome”, said Terfa.
Kirop kicks for home at 37km
The leaders in the women’s race set off at a course record pace, going through 5km in 16:51, 10km in 34:08, 15km in 51:12, faster than the early splits in Galina Bogomolova’s 2008 course record run of 2:22:53.
Nine women remained in the leading pack, which went through 21km in 1:11:58.
Kirop, Turkey’s Sultan Haydar and the Ethiopian trio of Ashu Kasim, Getnet Selomie Kassa and Eshetu Degefa then proceded to open up a gap of almost one minute over Kenya’s Hellen Mugo and Ethiopia’s Alem Fikre at 25km, which the five leaders passed in 1:25:14 to 1:26:11. Degefa was the dropped shortly afterwards as the four remaining contenders for glory reached 30km in 1:42:17.
The Kenyan runner then began to push the pace and opened up a three-second gap over her three rivals at 35km, which she passed in 1:59:06.
Kirop, who won the 2011 Venice Marathon in a personal best of 2:23:37, then really started to motor and increased her lead to 25 seconds at 37km (2:06:38) before crossing the line in the Fori Imperiali in 2:24:40, the second fastest of her career and the third fastest run ever seen in Rome.
She made her debut over the 42km distance in 2006 when she won the Casablanca Marathon in 2:34:43 at the age of 30. She has so far taken part in no less than 21 marathons and run 13 times under 2:30. On Sunday, she was racing in Rome for the sixth time.
“Pacemakers made a very good job despite the windy conditions. At 30km, I started pushing the pace. My plan was to run in the pack until the 30 km and start pushing at that point,” said the runner from West Pokot.
Her husband Peter Lomuria, is also a marathon runner with a best of 2:13:47. “I have three daughters. They are 8, 10and 12 years old. Only my second child is interested in running. It’s very difficult to combine training with motherhood. I created the Helena Kirop Foundation to help children from poor families in the Pokot community have access to education. In my spare time I like planting flowers in my garden,” commented the winner.
Kassa came home second in 2:25:15. “I am happy to have smashed my best by eight minutes. I feel that I would have run faster without the wind (in the second half of the race,” she reflected. Haydar took third place in 2:27:10.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1. Getachew Negari Terfa (ETH) 2:07:56
2. Girmay Gebru Birhanu (ETH) 2:08:11
3. Stephen Chemlany (KEN) 2:08:30
4. Haile Haja Gemeda (ETH) 2:08:35
5. Luka Lokobe Kanda (KEN) 2:08:50
6. Samson Barmao (KEN) 2:09:47
1. Helena Kirop (KEN) 2:24:40
2. Getnet Selomie Kassa (ETH) 2:25:15
3. Sultan Haydar (TUR) 2:27:10
4. Ashu Kasim (ETH) 2:30:10
5. Alem Fikre (ETH) 2:30:13
6. Hellen Mugo (KEN) 2:32:13