Raymond Kipkoech of Kenya won the 2004 Venice Marathon in 2:09:54, just one second faster than resurgent Danilo Goffi of Italy in an exciting neck and neck battle which reached its climax in the final 2km after the two runners entered Venice and faced the most challenging section of the race marked by the characteristic 13 bridges of this unique Italian city.
The Kenyan pacemakers David Kipruto and Phillip Rugut set a fast pace in the first 5km (15:30). They clocked four consecutive sub-3 minutes splits between 5km and 8km which contributed to a very irregular initial pace.
A four-men leading pack formed by David Kipruto, Phillip Rugut, Raymond Kipkoech and Lawrence Saina built an initial lead of nine seconds over Danilo Goffi who struggled to keep the pace set by the Kenyans.
The four Kenyans slowed the pace (3:04 in the 11km split) and this enabled Goffi to close the gap just before 15km. The chasing group formed by the Kenyans David Makori, who holds the course record with 2:08:49 set in 2002 and Isaac Kiprono (PB 2:09:59 set in Rotterdam in 2001) managed to catch up with the leaders and were in the seven men group at halfway which was reached in 1:04:18.
David Kipruto finished his pacemaking task after the 25km (1:16:26). The top runners were inside a 2:09 pace. At the 30km it was the turn of the second designated pacemaker Phillip Rugut to drop out after staying at the top of the race with Kipkoech, Saina, Goffi and Makori.
Kipkoech and Goffi pulled away from the rest of the group and remained in contention for the victory with seven kilometres to go (35 km in 1:47:36).
The race saw the Italian and the Kenyan battling side by side over the famous Ponte della Libertà (Freedom Bridge) which links Mestre to Venice until the 40km when Kipkoech launched his decisive attack.
Goffi seemed to respond and the final result remained uncertain until the final bridge because the Italian desperately tried to produce a final kick. Kipkoech promptly reacted and took the honours in his third marathon of the year after two second places in Paris on 4 April (2:10:08) and Vienna on 16 May (2:10:45).
Kipkoech came to the fore in September 2002 when he won the Berlin marathon in a sensational 2:06:47.
“Since then I failed to reproduce this kind of form because of an injury which has slowed my progress. I realized that I could win in Venice at the 40km when I pulled away from Goffi,” confirmed Kipkoech, a 27-year-old athlete from Kapsabet.
Goffi, a former European silver medallist in Budapest 1998, was delighted with his second place after four troubled years. The final 2:09:55 ranks him third in the Italian 2004 list behind Olympic champion Stefano Baldini and Olympic ninth placer Alberigo Di Cecco.
“It has been my first time under the 2:10 barrier for some years. I am happy that Venice marks the restart of my career. I like this marathon because it was here that I ran the first marathon of my career in 1995, which I won in 2:09:26. After the silver medal in Budapest and a fifth place at the World Championships in Seville I have struggled to produce good results. This year I changed the coach. I am now advised by Lucio Gigliotti. Lucio taught me to be patient and to run more relaxed than in the past. I am happy with my 2:09:55 although I think that I could have run faster with a more regular pace in the initial stages of the race.”
Jane Ekimat, a thirty-year old athlete coached by Italy’s Renato Canova, took the honours in the women’s race in 2:32:08, a time which enabled her to beat the local favourite Giovanna Volpato, who finished runner-up in 2:33:57.
Volpato, who was born near Venice who competed at the European Championships in Munich 2002 and the World Championships in Paris 2003, set the initial pace with Ekimat and Ethiopia’s Ardese Measso.
Volpato ran the first 10km split in 36:15 and led over Ekimat by 1 second until 15km (54:15). Ekimat and Measso took the lead before the halfway mark (1:16:04) with Volpato fifteen seconds behind. The Italian caught up with Measso and dropped her.
Ekimat increased her lead over Volpato by one minute with 12km to go and secured an easy win in the second marathon race of her career. She made her debut last spring in Turin where she ran in 2:36:41, followed by a second place in the Lisbon half marathon at the end of September in 1:10:32.
“I did not expect to win because the race was not easy. I suffered from a tendon injury which prevented me from training for two weeks,” said Ekimat.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Leading results from the Venice marathon
1 Raymond Kipkoech (Kenya) 2:09:54
2 Danilo Goffi (Italy) 2:09:55
3 Laban Kipngetich (Kenya) 2:11:38
4 Samuel Chenweno (Kenya) 2:11:50
5 David Cherui (Kenya) 2:14:20
6 Solomon Rotich (Kenya) 2:14:21
7 David Makori (Kenya) 2:15:02
8 Habtamu Bekele (Ethiopia) 2:15:42
1 Jane Ekimat (Kenya) 2:32:08
2 Giovanna Volpato (Italy) 2:33:57
3 Sisay Measso (Ethiopia) 2:36:51
4 Silvia Sommaggio (Italy) 2:39:33
5 Hellen Cherono (Kenya) 2:41:14