Wilfred Kigen of Kenya successfully defended his Messe Frankfurt Marathon title in the German banking capital today.
A warmer than expected day, 20C (68F) with strong winds meant that he was over half a minute outside his course record of 2:08:29 from last year. But after a narrow win, by just one second in 2005, the 31-year-old Kigen won today in 2:09:06, almost a minute and half ahead of his colleagues, Moses Arusei (2:10:30), and Francis Bowen (2:10:49).
Kigen was always in the leading group, right behind the pacemakers, signalling his intent to repeat last year’s win. He covered all the potential breaks, including one at 34 kilometres by the debutant Bowen. That was the signal for Kigen himself to take off, which he did little more than a kilometre later.
The issue was never in doubt, although Kigen delayed his celebrations for another couple of kilometres. “I still wasn’t sure of winning until about five kilometres to go,” said Kigen afterwards. “It was very windy and warm today, but when I accelerated at 35k, I just wanted to run away from them, and it worked”.
One of the pre-race favourites and a previous winner Boaz Kimaiyo (KEN), finished tenth in 2:13:31.
Kenyans took nine of the top 10 places with only Ethiopia's Kasime Adilo in seventh breaking up their domination (2:12:26).
Svetlana Ponomarenko was a surprise winner of the women’s race, becoming the third Russian in succession, after Olesya Nurgalieva and Alektina Biktimorova, to win the title.
Ponomarenko was over a minute behind the leaders, Robe Tola and Kutre Dulecha of Ethiopia at halfway, but the Russian ultimately ran out just as decisive a winner a Kigen.
“I started to catch the leaders at 26 kilometres, and at 34 kilomoetres, I still felt very good, so I went ahead”. Despite a pit-stop at 38 kilmoetres, which cost her around 40 seconds, Ponomarenko, 36, from the south Urals was so far ahead at that stage that she went on to win easily, in 2:30:05, from Kirsten Melkevik Otterbu of Norway (2:31:20), and Hafida Izem of Morocco (2:31:30).
The much vaunted Ethiopians, Dulecha and Tola could only finish sixth (2:33:54) and seventh (2:39:18). Claudia Dreher of Germany was fourth in 2:32:22, just failing to get a qualifying time for next year’s IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan.
Pat Butcher for the IAAF