A Hungarian record by Aniko Kalovics highlighted the famous Stramilano Half Marathon held on a cloudy morning in Milan. Kalovics stole the show with a 68:58 run which ranks her fourth on the world seasonal list behind Kayoko Fukushi (68:00), Benita Johnson (68:28) and Mizuki Noguchi (68:30).
Philemon Kipchumba Kisang smashed his PB winning the men’s race 60:55 ahead of compatriots Jackson Kirwa Kiprono (61:17) and Paul Kimaiyo Kimugul (61:49). Olympic and European Marathon champion Stefano Baldini finished fourth in 62:10 in his final test before the London Marathon.
Kalovics pushed hard from the beginning setting a very fast pace. She ran the first 10 km in 32:16 dropping Italian-based Nadja Ejjaffini from Bahrain by 30 seconds. Florence marathon winner Vincenza Sicari from Italy followed 1:05 behind. In the first part of the race the Hungarian was pace by her fiancé and coach Zsolt Zsoder who is a former triathlete.
Kalovics ran at an average of 3:15 for each kilometre. In the second half she ran alone without opposition and crossed the finish-line in 68:58 for her third consecutive win in the Stramilano in her final test before the Turin Marathon scheduled on 15 April.
“I wanted to run 70 minutes, so a sub-69 time is amazing. The Stramilano is a very important race for me. I am now in the history of this race”, said Kalovics, a 29-year-old from Szombathely who spends part of the year in Italy. In Turin she is looking to improve her national marathon record (2:26:43) set at last autumn’s Carpi Marathon.
Nadia Ejjafini set her personal best finishing runner-up with 70:38. Third was Mexico’s Maria De La Cruz in 72:09 in her final test before the upcoming Rotterdam Marathon.
Kenyans got off the men’s race to a fast start. The front group which included Philemon Kipchumba Kisang, Jackson Kirwa Kiprono, Fred Chesondin Kosgei, last year’s Stramilano winner Paul Kimaiyo Kimugul and Alfons Kibor Yatich set a early pace of 2:48 clocking 14:26 in the first 5 km.
Stefano Baldini managed to run in the first group in the first 8 kilometres. Fabiano Joseph from Tanzania was also in the front in the early stage of the race but was forced to drop out before 10km.
Five Kenyans (Kisang, Kirwa, Kimugul, Chesondin and Yatich) passed the first 10 km in 28:34 dropping Baldini and ukranian Vasyl Matvichuk by 16 seconds.
After 10km Kipchumba Kisang, Jackson Kirwa and Paul Kimugul formed the leading group.
Kisang and Kirwa upped the pace pulling away from Kimugul. Baldini, who has just returned from a training stint in Namibia, lost ground in the second half and was dropped by the Kenyans who passed 43:03 in the 15 km mark.
Shortly before the 17km Kisang launched his decisive attack leaving Kirwa behind. In the final 3 kilometres Kisang slowed his pace (18 km in 2:52 and 19 km in 2:55) but the solid leading margin he built up on Kirwa was no longer under threat.
Kisang comes from Nairobi. He is married and trains with a group which includes Paul Kosgei and Paul Kimugul. Before Milan he held a previous PB of 61:27 (4th here last year). “The course was perfect for me but it was a bit cold. I realized that I could win at 15 km”, said Kisang.
Baldini was not particularly happy with his performance which followed a difficult period. In February he stopped training due to a bout of flu and for this reason the Milan race was an important test for him before the London Marathon. Last year he ran one minute faster finishing third in 61:14. “I ran well in the first half but I had not a good feeling in the second part of the race. I ran 1:02 which is the time I have to run if I want to stay with the leading group in London in three weeks. Today’s race is an indication that I worked well on long-distance runs but what I need before London is quality”, said Baldini.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1 Philemon Kisang Kipchumba (Kenya) 60:55
2 Jackson Kirwa Kiprono (Kenya) 61:17
3 Paul Kimaiyo Kimugul (Kenya) 61:49
4 Stefano Baldini (Italy) 62:10
5 Alfons Yatich Kibor (Kenya) 62:36
6 Vasyl Matvichuk (Ukraine) 62:55
7 Jamel Chatbi (Morocco) 63:43
8 Ottavio Andriani (Italy) 64:20
1 Aniko Kalovics (Hungary) 68:58
2 Nadja Ejjafini (Barhein) 70:38
3 Maria De La Cruz (Mexico) 72:09
4 Debora Toniolo (Italy) 72:14
5 Vincenza Sicari (Italy) 72:15
6 Karolina Jarzynska (Poland) 73:42