Florence, ItalyKenyan Ben Chebet Kipruto took the win at the 26th edition of the Florence Marathon (Sun 29) holding off Reuben Kosgei by one second in 2:11:21. It was the second win of the year for Kipruto who finished first at the Maratona di Sant’Antonio in Padova last April in his 2:09:42 PB.
Kosgei finished the first marathon of his career in Florence after his unlucky debut in Vienna where he dropped out at 25km. Assefa Reta Girma from Ethiopia finished third in 2:12:42, three seconds ahead of Italian 37-year-old top runner Danilo Goffi who kept his dream alive to make the National team for next summer’s European Championships in Barcelona.
Eva Maria Gradwohl from Austria was the surprise winner in the women’s race in 2:35:41 in the 20th marathon of her career. Europe prevailed over Africa in the fight for second place with Lena Gavelin from Sweden second in 2:37:11 ahead of Girma Tadesse (2:37:28) from Ethiopia. Ivana Iozzia finished as the first italian in fourth place in 2:37:35.
Nine men in the leading pack went through at 5km in 15:20 The group featured Reuben Kosgei, Ben Chebet Kipruto, Valentin Ondego Orare, Paul Ngeny Kipkemboi from Kenya, Assefa Girma from Ethiopia, Daniele Caimmi, Danilo Goffi and Denis Curzi from Italy and Abdelhadi El Hachimi from Morocco. There were no pacemakers in the group.
Kosgei, Assefa and Kipruto ran at the front of this nine-men leading group which reached the 15km in 46:00.
During the 18th km Kosgei, Assefa, Kipruto and El Hachimi injected a 2:57 split and had pulled away from the rest of the group by 20km.
However, Daniele Caimmi who returned to marathon running after two years managed to catch up with the four men at the front which went through at halfway in 1:04:32 but Caimmi was soon dropped again by the four Africans.
The other Italian challenger, Denis Curzi, who suffered from a bout of flu ten days ago, was forced to drop out of the race before the 30 km.
By 30km Kosgei, Assefa and Kipruto had carved out a gap of 18 seconds and it was this trio who secure in front fought for the win.
Kipruto and Kosgei at 38km broke away from Assefa who lost the ground. In the final 2 kilometres they battled it out with Kipruto pulling clear with a gap of five seconds over Kosgei but the former Olympic Steeplechase champion did not give up and managed to close the gap dangerously in the final kilometre, with his opponent holding on to win in 2:11:21 by just one second!
It was the sixth victory for Ben Chebet Kipruto who has already won in Innsbruck 2005 (2:12:04), Trieste 2006 (2:16:22) Carpi 2008 (2:10:50), Thessaloniki 2006 (2:13:40) and Padua 2009 (2:09:42). He dropped out at this year’s Venice Marathon at 30 km due to stomach problems.
“I ran in Venice but I did not finish the race. I prepared very well and I wanted to get a second chance. My coach Claudio Berardelli told me that I could win the race”, said Kipruto.
Second placed Kosgei had won the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon in Australia on 17 May in 1:04:18. During his distinguished track career Kosgei became the youngest ever runner to win the Olympic 3000m Steeplechase title when he took the gold in Sydney 2000 at the age of 21 and then won the World title one year later in Edmonton. In 2001 he also clocked 7:57.19 in Brussels. “I need to get more experience over the marathon distance but I feel that I am a 42 km runner,” said Kosgei.
For Danilo Goffi the Florence Marathon was the start of a second career after many ups and downs in the last two years. “Last August I began training hard with the dream to take part in my fourth European Championships next summer in Barcelona. After some difficult years I look forward to next year with great confidence”, said Goffi, 1998 European silver medallist.
Double Italian marathon champion Ivana Iozzia took the lead with a Ethiopian duo formed by Dagne Kaligan and Girma Tadesse at 10km mark which they reached in 35:38. Iozzia kept the lead until the 21km mark a point which she passed in 1:15:48, leaving Tadesse in front, with Kaligan in third, while Austrian Maria Gradwohl reached halfway in fourth place in 1:16:16.
The race slowed in the second half and saw the race demise of Kaligan, which left the 36-year-old Austrian beginning to close the gap on Iozzia who began fading seriously after 30km, and would eventually complete in fourth (2:37:35).
Tadesse remained out in front with a seven seconds margin over the chasing Gradwohl who continued her great second half, catching-up with the Ethiopian when 2:28 was on the clock and finishing a clear winner in 2:35:41.
Sweden’s Lena Gavelin overtook Tadesse who was fading in the final part of the race and finished runner-up in 2:37:11 from the Ethiopian (2:37:28).
It was the tenth marathon win for Gradwohl who won the Graz Marathon five times, the Linz Marathon four times and set her PB of 2:30:51 in Linz in 2008. Gradwohl, mother of a 15-year-old boy, took part in the Olympic Games marathon in Bejing where she finished 57th in 2:44:24.
“I set my goal to qualify for the European Championships in Barcelona. It’s a big honour to win in this beautiful city. After finishing fifth in Casablanca on a very hot day, I want to enjoy running and I have decided to take part in races held in beautiful cities,” said Gradwohl.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Selected results from the Florenze Marathon
1 Ben Kipruto Chebet (Kenya) 2:11:21
2 Reuben Kosgei Seronei (Kenya) 2:11:22
3 Assefa Reta Girma (Ethiopia) 2:12:42
4 Danilo Goffi (Italy) 2:12:45
5 Daniele Caimmi (Italy) 2:15:14
6 Abdelhadi El Hachimi (Marocco) 2:16:17
7 Francesco Bona (Italy) 2:17:02
8 Federico Simionato (Italy) 2:18:03
1 Eva Maria Gradwohl (Austria) 2:35:41
2 Lena Gavelin (Sweden) 2:37:11
3 Girma Tadesse (Ethiopia) 2:37:28
4 Ivana Iozzia (Italy) 2:37:35