Lisbon, PortugalKenyans Rodgers Rop (59:49) and Joyce Chepchumba (68:11) won the men's and women's races respectively at this morning’s Lisbon Half Marathon.
The men’s race was particularly fast, but, even so, Paul Tergat’s event record (59:06) was not beaten.
No one has ever won the Lisbon Half Marathon twice, however last year’s winner Martin Lel tried hard to reach that goal today. He was leading the race until the final metres but Rogers Rop didn’t intend to give him that honour, and passed him just before the finish line, and only two seconds separated them 59:49 to 59:51.
In total five athletes dipped under the hour. After Rop and Lel came Robert Cheruiyot (last year also third) with 59:54, Gharib Jaouad (59:56), and Paul Kosgei (59:58).
The South African Hendrick Ramaala, winner in 2001 and second for the last two editions, was one of the top athletes present in Lisbon, but only finished in 12th with 61:28.
“I have been training for the last two years to win in Lisbon and I’m very happy to have finally achieved my goal," confirmed Rop. "At the end I had to push a little bit, but everything turned well.” Rop is now focused on the Boston Marathon, a race which the 28 year-old won in 2002.
Joyce Chepchumba (third last year) went ahead from the gun and kept the lead almost all the race. She crossed the finish line completely alone, more than one minute ahead of the second placed Leah Malot (KEN) who was also second in last year’s race. Finishing very close to Malot was Ethiopia’s Merima Denboba, with only one second between them at the finish.
“Despite the fact it was windy and cold, it was a great race, since I am champion.” Now Chepchumba has the London Marathon to think about, a race at which she has already had two victories. “For me, London is like home. I will try my best, but a marathon is a very long race. Sometimes we are in shape and reach the goals, sometimes we don’t. Let’s see then...”
More then 25,000 participants
More then 25,000 participants brought a special colour to the magnificent course which cuts across the bridge over the Tagus River. Even Jorge Sampaio, the Portuguese President, as well as several other Government members came to see the race and support the athletes. The Olympic MMarathon champions Rosa Mota (1988) and Carlos Lopes (1984) were also there in support.
Aurora Cunha, who was three times World Road Race champion (from 1984 to 1986), also gave her support and took part in the mini-marathon. “I believe it’s important to be at this kind of event, especially a peoples’ race. People like to run with us (former champions), and really try to get to the finish line (ahead of us).”
1 Rodgers Rop KEN 59:49
2 Martin Lel KEN 59:51
3 Robert Cheruiyot KEN 59:54
4 Gharib Jaouad MAR 59:56
5 Paul Kosgei KEN 59:58
6 Luke Kibet KEN 01:00:00
7 Sammy Korir KEN 01:00:19
8 Charles Kamathi KEN 01:00:28
9 Richard Yatich KEN 01:00:31
10 Tesfaye Tola ETH 01.00.52
1 Joyce Chepchumba KEN 01:08:11
2 Leah Malot KEN 01:09:35
3 Merima Denboba ETH 01:09:36
4 Susan Kurui KEN 01:11:10
5 Margaret Okayo KEN 01:12:19
6 Malgorzata Sobanska POL 01:13:39
7 Fátima Silva POR 01:13:54
8 Olga Machado POR 01:14:46
9 Marisa Barros POR 01:14:50
10 Filipa Coelho POR 01:15:11