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Biwott takes Rotterdam men’s title, as Japanese sweep women’s honours

Biwott takes Rotterdam men’s title, as Japanese sweep women’s honours
Wim Van Hemert for the IAAF.
21 April 2002 – Kenya’s 32 year old Simon Biwott and Japan's Takami Ominami, won the 22nd edition of the Fortis Rotterdam Marathon today. Biwott, the silver medallist from the Edmonton World championships marathon clocked a time of  2.08.39 in the men's race, while Ominami improved her personal best from 2.31 to 2.23.43, the fourth fastest time ever run by a woman on the Rotterdam course.

An amazing feat of endurance occurred in the men’s race. Kenya’s Kenneth Cheruiyot, who won here in 2000 and finished second last year behind compatriot Josephat Kiprono, fell on the asphalt after 10 kms today, while taking a drink. The Kenyan got up fast but his right knee and arm had clearly been wounded, and although suffering held on and finally finished second in 2.09.43. Yet it wasn't until after the finish, when he was brought to hospital and X-rays were taken that it became clear that Cheruiyot had run 32 kilometres of the race with a broken right radius!

In sunny conditions, the temperature after the noon race start went up to 18 degrees Celsius, a temperature which caused a lot of problems for the 10.000 runners. Rotterdam, owing to a flat course usually produces very fast times but did not get them this year but what a great race it witnessed in the men’s division!

After a relatively slow start in the first km (3.14) the pace went up. Seven pacemakers brought with them a group of six consisting of Kenya's Biwott, Cheruiyot, Joseph Kahugu, Sammy Korir and the Ethiopians Ambesse Tolossa and Ashebir Demissie. This group went through the first 5 kms in 15.10, and passed 10 kms in 30.09.

These thirteen men stayed together reaching 15 kms in 45.04. At that point the Dutch pacemaker Marco Gielen fell back but the others stayed together, passing 20kms in 1.00.11 and half way in 1.03.32 (18 seconds over the predicted split time at 21,1 kms). 

With all the pacemakers now gone except Wilson Kigen (Ken) who went through 25 kms in 1.15.24, Demissie found he could not follow any longer at 27 kms.Then after 30 kms ( 1.30.45) Kigen finally stopped his pace making duties and wished the others good luck by waving his arm. At 31 kms, Korir fell back and later did not finish.

At a turning point on the course at around 34 kms, Biwott and Cheruiyot were alone followed by Kahugu and Tolossa. Behind these four runners, much was happening. Spanish Jose Manuel Martinez running his first marathon came up strongly, as did Dutchmen Luc Krotwaar..

At 35 kms ( 1.46.06), Biwott decided to go solo. During the kilometres through the shadows of the Kralingse Bos (Kralingen Wood) the tall African managed to up the pace, leading Cheruiyot by 29 seconds at the 40 kms point (2.01.49 against 2.02.18) and was never in any danger from then on. By that point Martinez (ESP) had taken third place, and further back Krotwaar was chasing the two Ethiopians, who were running together.

Afterwards winner Biwott said, “I knew I was in a good shape. I hoped that Cheruiyot could press me in the final stage but he could not. (Biwott didn’t know then that Cheruiyot had been running with a broken right radius). Then I went on for the win. I’m very happy with this win at Rotterdam. It is a great marathon.’’

The women’s race was an all Japanese affair as predicted. Takami Ominami, Masako Chiba and Junko Akagi were running together from the beginning, clocking nearly the same split times( 17.05, 34.19, 51.44 and 1.08.35). Just about half way (1.12.16), Akagi could not keep up with the pace any longer.

“At 22 kms I decided to run my own pace’’, said Ominami after her win. “I love the public in Rotterdam. They are so enthusiastic. The course is ideal. I ran this race with a lot of pleasure.’’

Ominami’s pleasure was easily understandable. After 25 kms she did not have to fear anybody and went on to pass the next 5 km points in 1.41.53 (30 kms), 1.58.46 (35) and 2.16.14 (40 kms), winning in a personal best of 2.23.43.

Chiba who finished second, told the post race press conference: “At 25 kms I could not follow Ominami any longer (ed. 1.25.09-1.25.11) and so I decided to run at my own rhythm.’’

Leading Results
1. Simon Biwott (Ken) 2.08.39
2. Kenneth Cheruiyot (Ken) 2.09.39 
3. Jose Manuel Martinez (Esp) 2.09.55 (PB, first marathon)
4. Joseph Kahugu (Ken) 2.10.48
5. Luc Krotwaar (Ned) 2.10.59 (Dutch champion 2002)
6. Ashebir Demissie (Eth) 2.11.32
7. Ambesse Tolossa (Eth) 2.11.34
8. Jose Manuel garcia (Esp) 2.11.49
9. Luke Kibet (Ken) 2.11.58
10. Alejandro Gomez (Esp) 2.12.58
11. Vasalis Zabelis (Gre) 2.13.24 (PB)
12. Noureddine Betim (Alg) 2.13.27 (PB)
13. Daiisuke Isomatsu (Jap) 2.13.42
14. Oscar Fernandez (Esp) 2.14.57
15. Kazuo Iketani (Jap) 2.15.39
16. Jose Axier Zarraga (Esp) 2.17.24
17.Nikolaos Pollias (Gre) 2.18.30
18. Hugo van den Broek (Ned) 2.19.38 (PB) 2nd Dutch championships)
19. Dick van de Broek (Ned) 2.2010 (3rd Dutch championships)
20. F. Veloso (Bel) 2.22.30  

1. Takami Ominami (Jap) 2.23.43 (PB)
2. Masako Chiba (Jap) 2.25.11 (PB)
3. Junko Akagi (Jap) 2.29.10
4. Tina Maria Ramos (Esp) 2.34.05 (PB)
5. Meseret Kotu (Eth) 2,36.04
6. Worknesh Tola (Eth) 2.37.10 (PB)
7. Vivian Ruijters (Ned) 2.37.36 (Dutch champion 2002)
8, Annelieke van der Sluijs (Ned) 2..41.07 (2nd Duch championships)
9. Agnes Hijman (Ned) 2.47.21