John Mutai of Kenya (© Allsport) © Copyright
General News Newcastle, Great Britain

Kenyan double at Great North Run 99

Kenya's John Mutai moved to new levels at the 19th Bupa Great North Run, Europe's biggest mass participant sporting event. Meanwhile Joyce Chepchumba confirmed her status in the superleague of road running by defeating her friend Tegla Loroupe.

Mutai repeated his tactic of 1998 and ran from the front. Then, he led for most of the race before succumbing to Josiah Thugwane. This year the South African - suffering from an upset stomach - was never a factor and trailed in 17th. Mutai (33), who has been based in Coventry since 1994, had accumulated a seven-second lead by the three-mile point outside Gateshead International Stadium. He proceeded to increase this advantage over Gert Thys (RSA), his closest challenger. Australia's Lee Troop held third place at this point.

There was no stopping Mutai, who had just returned from an 11-week training stint in Kenya. He sped through five miles and 10Km in pbs of 22:49 and 28:19, increasing his lead to 10 seconds. On the two-mile downhill stretch approaching Jarrow, Thys closed slightly, but by 10 miles (45:47), Mutai was 20 seconds ahead. On a bright, mild autumn morning, Mutai crossed the finish line in 60:52, a huge improvement on his previous best of 62:36.

Thys was an isolated second while, in third and fourth Mark Steinle and Matt O'Dowd clocked the fastest times by British runners since 1997.

The winner is a 2:13:37 marathon runner who was the victor in Seville back in February. He has a British coach, Ian Ladbrooke and is a member of the Midlands Club Bromsgrove & Reddich. He hope now to break 2:10 and is seeking a winter marathon.

"I'm improving all the time in my training," said Mutai, "so I hoped to improve in my racing. I didn't want to lose like last year. I was ready to run until I fell down."

The day before the race, Joyce Chepchumba and Tegla Loroupe had shopped together in Newcastle for presents to take home to their families in Kenya.

When it came to Sunday's race, it was Chepchumba who ended Loroupe's road race win streak at 11. The race was all the more fascinating for the presence of Paula Radcliffe - making her half marathon début - and Sonia O'Sullivan, returning to top-class racing exactly three months after giving birth.

The early pace was slow (16:50 at 5Km), with a leading group of Chepchumba, Loroupe, Radcliffe, O'Sullivan, Esther Kiplagat and Manuela Machado. After five miles (27:15), Chepchumba and Loroupe speeded up and soon all but Radcliffe were dropped. In fourth place O'Sullivan lost touch but was not out of sight on the point-to-point course between Newcastle and South Shields.

Chepchumba continued to press the pace, taking her and Loroupe clear of the Briton. The London marathon winner, her hair in distinctive long braids, then strode away from the holder of the world marathon best. Loroupe - her heavy racing schedule at last taking its toll - was then caught Radcliffe and by 10 miles the two were running together around 20 seconds behind Chepchumba. The leader had put in a brilliant 4:57 mile to that point, putting her within range of a 69 minute final time.

Radcliffe made her usual gutsy effort to progress further and looked to be dropping Loroupe despite colliding with a spectator on a turn. But Loroupe rallied as they turned onto the South Shields coast. Their private race brought them closer to Chepchumba, but the taller Kenyan never looked like being caught and won in 69:07, equalling her personal best. She therefore can claim victory in both of Britain's two major road races in 1999.

Loroupe placed second, just ahead of Radcliffe whose 69:37 was the second-fastest ever by a British woman. A terrific run also by O'Sullivan in fourth spot, 105 seconds quicker than her winning time from 1998.

Chepchumba confirmed that the victory was not quite as easy as it looked.

"I felt I could win but later in the race I looked back and saw Tegla and Paula coming. It was very difficult." Loroupe also had difficulties, feeling again the calf soreness she suffered during her world marathon best in Berlin.

"It was horrible," said Radcliffe, who nevertheless was pleased with her time. "I'll be in better shape the next time I do one."

"I would have liked to have won it," said O'Sullivan, "but when the girls injected a bit of pace I wasn't ready to run ... I would have been ready to run a race half as long, which is what I'll be doing next week [in the Bupa Ireland Loughrea 5 miles on October 16]."

Chepchumba is also planning to race again shortly, at the Chicago marathon.

Meanwhile Loroupe and Radcliffe will be taking well-deserved rests in Austria and the United States respectively.

Mark Butler for the IAAF

Leading Results Bupa Great North Run October 10, Newcastle to South Shields
(21.09Km including a 30.5m drop from start to finish)


1, John Mutai KEN 60:52
2, Gert Thys RSA 61:21
3, Mark Steinle GBR 62:23
4, Matthew O'Dowd GBR 62:38
5, Lee Troop AUS 62:57
6, Martin Fiz ESP 63:00
7, John Morapedi RSA 63:16
8, Rob Denmark GBR 63:34
9, Alexandr Bolkhovitin RUS 63:45
10, Steve Green GBR 63:55
11, Mark Morgan GBR 64:03
12, Richard Nerurkar GBR 64:43
13, Adrian Mussett GBR 64:46
14, António Pinto POR 65:02
15, Nick Francis GBR 65:18
16, Mark Croasdale GBR 65:26
17, Josiah Thugwane RSA 65:42
18, Scott McDonald GBR 66:22
19, Stuart Hall GBR 66:28
20, Daniel Robinson GBR 66:31
21, Tony Duffy (V40) GBR 66:38

Intermediate times:

5K: Mutai 13:51
5M: Mutai 22:49
10K: Mutai 28:19
15K: Mutai 42:35
10M: Mutai 45:47
20K: Mutai 57:34


1, Joyce Chepchumba KEN 69:07
2, Tegla Loroupe KEN 69:35
3, Paula Radcliffe GBR 69:37
4, Sonia O'Sullivan IRL 70:05
5, Esther Kiplagat KEN 72:12
6, Manuela Machado (V35) POR 72:53
7, Trudi Thompson (V40) GBR 75:14
8, Alison Wyeth GBR 66:18
9, Jo Thompson GBR 76:25
10, Lyubov Belyavina RUS 77:34
11, Amy Stiles GBR 78:16
12, Ann Buckley GBR 78:35
13, Sharon Dixon GBR 78:38
14, Sheila Allen GBR 80:10
15, Julie O'Mara GBR 80:33
16, Dawn James GBR 81:08
17, Kim Stephenson GBR 81:31
18, Laura Woffenden GBR 81:56
19, Marlene Gemmell GBR 82:33
20, Emma Phillips GBR 72:35

Intermediate times:

5K: pack 16:50
5M: Chepchumba/Loroupe/Radcliffe 27:15
10K: Chepchumba 34:06
15K: Chepchumba 49:19
10M: Chepchumba 52:43
20K: Chepchumba 65:30

(More than 30,000 finishers)