Kenya’s David Toniok produced a closing burst to claim victory in the 12th Edinburgh Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, in 2:15:33 but saw his late chase for the course record come up just short on Sunday (25).
After a duel which took in conditions from all four seasons in the Scottish capital, the 30-year-old pre-race favourite was clear of the field in the final six kilometres but he finished a tantalising seven seconds outside the best on the circuit, set by his compatriot Zachary Kihara in 2005.
Toniok’s early attempt at dominance was squashed when his lead over the opening six miles was gradually eroded by fellow Kenyans Japhet Koech and Elicky Mase, who combined to turn the solo bid into a three-pronged fight.
The trio were briefly joined just after the halfway stage by another Kenyan, the highly regarded Linus Maiyo.
However, a fresh surge of acceleration from the leading trio, with the pace being pushed primarily by Toniok, ended Maiyo’s hopes in the 19th mile.
Toniok soon engineering another decisive surge in the 21st mile, with a 5:02 split, that left Koech and Mase trailing in his wake and having to eventually settle for second and third, in 2:16:29 and 2:17:29 respectively.
“I was looking for a fast time at the start,” said Toniok, who has a best of 2:10:39. “But then when the wind picked up, I planned to stay with the other two until it eased off. After 21 miles, I was feeling fresh and that’s when I decided to accelerate and go for it.”
Koech admitted he had no option but to settle for silver with the effects of the strong winds wearing him down. “We were talking to each other about trying to go quicker,” he said. “But I didn’t feel I could go with David when he made that break. I had to just tell myself to focus on my own race."
Kateryna shows greatness
Ukraine’s Kateryna Stetsenko used her experience to justify her role as race favourite to take the women’s race in 2:36:07 after her late bid to overtake defending champion Risper Kimaiyo, from Kenya, was rewarded.
Kimaiyo led for 21 miles but found her quest for a repeat of her 2013 success, her one and only previous marathon which she won in 2:35.57, thwarted with Stetsenko, who competed for her country at the 2011 IAAF World Championships, having more in reserve and overhauled her rival five miles from the finish for her fourth win over the classic distance in 15 marathon starts.
“I was finding the hills difficult but when I saw Risper coming back at the turn, I thought I could catch her,” said Stetsenko, who has also won the Dublin, Hannover and Krakow Marathons in the past and can boast of a best of 2:27:51.
“At mile 21, I thought I felt ready so I began to pull away. The last part, when I went past, was hard. I had to run the final ten kilometres mostly by myself. So while I’m happy to have won, I’m not really that pleased with the time,” added the winner, although her disappointment was tempered by the knowledge that she won well in difficult conditions and on a testing course.
Kimaiyo laboured home second in 2:39:52 with Adeline Roche, of France, was a distant third in 2:47:03.
Ross Houston, who will compete for Scotland in July’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, came first in the adjoining Edinburgh Half Marathon in 1:07:16 after pulling away over the closing two miles. Over 30,000 competitors took part in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival over two days, said the organisers, making it the UK’s second largest running event after the London Marathon.
Mark Woods for IAAF