On a sunny cool morning (7C) yesterday (5 Nov), the 28th Istanbul Eurasia Marathon - incorporating the European Police Championships - set off from the Bosporus Bridge on its way from Asia to Europe. Lithuania’s Mindaugas Pukstas (men) and Russia’s Madina Biktagirova (women) were the eventual winners with course records of 2:12:52, and 2:28:21 respectively.
By the end of the fifth kilometre Tanzania’s Faustin Baha Sulle and Moroccan Mytahar Echchadi headed the race led by Kenyan pace-maker Simon Toni. Two big groups of runners kept following but gradually fell further behind by some 600-800 metres respectively. The elite race scenario kept like this till the half marathon point, and it seemed like the Tanzanian and Moroccan would be the ones to fight it out for the win.
However, at 22.5km the Tanzanian started a break away from Echchadi, gradually building up his lead. This worked well for him till 35km, when a posse of runners who had themselves broken away from the two original chasing groups narrowed his lead to just 15 metres. These were Lithuania’s Mindaugas Pukstas, Ukrainian Andriy Naumov, and Russia’s Sergey Lukin.
By 40km they caught and passed Sulle, who eventually finished fourth.
In the final 2km, it was the Lithuanian who was the strongest of this new leading trio, winning in 2:12:52, ahead of Naumov (2:12:59), with Lukin in third (2:13:08).
The first four crossed the line inside the old course record of 2:13:37 set in 1997 by Ethiopian Taye Moges.
From the starting gun, a large pack of elite runners led the women’s field. By the fifth kilometre it reduced to a dozen of runners including Turkish Methap Dogan, Russia’s Lilia Yadzhak, Natalya Volgina, and defending champion and course record holder Madina Biktagirova.
The Turkish runner led the pack accelerating between kilometres 5-10 and 15-20, to try and wear out her Russian rivals. But by 25km she tired, and so it was Volgina, last year’s runner-up, who took over the lead for the next 10km.
By this time it was already clear that the course record would be improved, but it was hard to believe that six athletes would eventually better the old time by the end!
Biktabirova seemed not to be in any hurry, and confidently kept to her own pace, and had falled behind Volgina by a hundred metres when the race passed 35km.
However, during the next five kilometres she gradually pulled back on her Russian compatriot who already looked tired. After the 40th kilometre, it was Biktabirova who headed the race sprinting unchallenged up the hill to the finish line one minute ahead of the rest, beating her own course record with 2:28:21.
European Police Championships
The strong elite field in the marathon helped the participants of European Police Championships to make top results. Andriy Naumov added the title of European Police Champion to his second overall place in the marathon. The second place was taken by Yaroslav Musinschi (2:15:06) from Moldova, and third came Nikolay Kerimov (2:18:35) from Russia. The Women’s Police Champion was Valentina Poltavska of Ukraine – 2:40:42.
Sergey Porada and Yelena Kurdyumova for IAAF
Istanbul Eurasia Marathon 2006
1.Mindaugas Puktstas LTU 2:12:52
2.Andriy Naumov UKR 2:12:59
3.Sergey Lukin RUS 2:13:08
4.Faustin Baha Sulle TAN 2:13:25
5.John Kioko KEN 2:14:09
6.Hillary Kipkerring KEN 2:14:17
7.Iaroslav Musinschi MDA 2:15:06
8.Elias Chebet KEN 2:15:47
1.Madina Biktagirova RUS 2:28:21
2.Liliya Yadzhak RUS 2:29:22
3.Natalya Volgina RUS 2:30:07
4. Mehtap Dogan TUR 2:31:13
5.Alina Gherasim ROM 2:32:13
6.Malgorzata Sobanska POL 2:32:40
7.Mihaela-Maria Botezan ROM 2:37:01
8.Tatyana Zhirkova RUS 2:39:25