In one of the fastest men's marathons ever, Kenyan Duncan Kibet edged compatriot James Kwambai to win the 29th Fortis Marathon Rotterdam. Both runners were credited with a 2:04:27, the third fastest performance of all time.
The Fortis Rotterdam Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.
Three times in its 29-year-old history the Rotterdam Marathon produced a World record. The authors were Carlos Lopes (2:07:12, 1985) and Belayneh Densamo (2:06:50, 1988) on the men's side and Tegla Loroupe (2:20:47, 1998) on the women's. On a near perfect day for Marathon running with a temperature of around 10 degrees CT, nearly no wind and light sunshine, Rotterdam now got a thrilling finish with Kibet and Kwambai both clocking 2:04:27, the third fastest time even run. Only world record holder Haile Gebrselassie (2:03:59 and 2:04:26) has ever run faster.
The finish, with tens of thousands of spectators packed into the city's Coolsingel center district, was a thriller for the final 500 metres. Kwambai who ran a strong and impressive race was the first to enter the broad central Rotterdam thoroughfare. He was several metres ahead of his compatriot, the Kalenjin tribesman Kibet, who came back in the last few hundred metres, fell back only to come back again to finally edge Kwambai at the finishline to become Kenya's new national record holder, surpassing former World record holder Paul Tergat. The distance between the two was nearly not visible.
Behind, two other Kenyans, Abel Kirui (2:05:04) and Patrick Makau (2:06:14), finished third and fourth. For Kirui it also a personal best, and for Makau, an impressive debut.
After several years of less-than-optimal weather circumstances Rotterdam this year experienced its best ever for a Marathon race. The plan for the race was that the seven pace makers would bring the most important contenders through 30 kilometres in 1:29 minutes. The plan worked well, especially by Wilson Chebet who forced the pace to bring the leaders to the 32nd kilometre in the Kralingse Bos (Kralingse Wood).
The race got off a very fast start with intermediate times of 14:41 and 29:18 for five and ten kilometres. At 15 kms (44:16 for the winner) there was still a leading group of seventeen, including some pace makers. At half way (1:02:35) the pace was still very fast and it appeared certain that the desired 2:05 clocking was possible. At 30Km, Chebet was leading the group of four - Kibet, Kwambai, Kirui and Makau. The latter, with eight sub-60 minute Half Marathons under his belt was always running at the back of the group. After Chebet had fnished his excellent pace work the race was on. Kwambai was mostly leading and his pace proved to be too fast first for Makau and later for Kirui. After Kirui dropped back the other two forged on, passing 40 kilometres in 1:57:53. Kwambai looked to be the strongest but in the final strech to the finish the bearded Kibet was the quickest.
"Around 35 kms I had to close a little gap," Kibet said. "I do not know what happened in the final stage. I only know I won. I was a little bit worried because one of my knees was painful but everything went fine. Next year I will be back here on this extremely fast course."
Yulamanova overtakes struggling Cheromei - women's race
The women's race was won by Russian Nailya Yulamanova in a personal best of 2:26:30.
Yulamanova was a convincing winner. Running well behind pre-race favourite Lydia Cheromei for much of the race, at one point more than a minute-and-a-half adrift. But when the Kenyan weakened in the waning stages, the Russian took advantage to claim the win.
For Yulamanova, there was a major problem before the race. She lost her luggage en route but the organisers managed to arrange new shoes (size 3.5) on Saturday night.
"When we brought her new shoes it was the first time we saw her smiling," a race organiser said.
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF
Leading Results -
1. Duncan Kibet, Ken 2:04:27 PB, course record old 2.05.49 William Kipsang 2008)
2. James Kwambai, Ken 2:04:27 PB (correct)
3. Abel Kirui, Ken 2:05:04 PB
4. Patrick Makau, Ken 2:06:14 PB debut
5. Jackson Kipkoech, Ken 2:08:54
6. Alfred Kering, Ken 2:09:19 PB
7. Mesfin Ademasu, Eth 2:09:32 PB
8. Robert Kipcumba, Ken 2:09:54 PB debut
9. Richard Limo, Ken 2:10:09
10. Mariko Kipchumba, Ken 2:12:17
11. Ignacio Carcares, Esp 2:12:40 PB
12. Dereje Tesfaye, Eth 2:13:17
13. Dickson Marwa, Tan 2:13:23
14. Joshua Chelanga, Ken 2:18:36
15. Koen Raymaekers, Ned 2:18:59
16. Anssi Raittila, Fin 2:19:16
17. John Kipchumba, Ken 2:19:38
18. Ahmed Ezzobayry, Fra 2:19:45
19. Thijs Feuth, Ned 2:23:35
20. Luc Krotwaar, Ned 2:26:57
1. Nailya Yulamanova, Rus 2:26:30 PB
2. Lydia Cheromei, Ken 2:28:09
3. Adriana Pirtea, Rou 2:36:36
4. Sue Harrison, GBr 2:37:27
5. Viktoria Ryazantseva, Rus 2:40:33
6. Luzia Schmid, Sui 2:52:14
7. Marta Esteban Poveda Esp 2:53:48
8. Minna Kainlauri, Fin 2:56:01
9. Katja Merlin, Bel 2:58:10
10. Birgit Kraemer, Ned 2:59:42