Rome, ItalyBenjamin Kiptoo from Kenya and Ethiopian Firehiwot Dado were the surprise winners of the Acea Electrabel Maratona di Roma, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, on Sunday.
Starting as a pacemaker, Kiptoo, winner of two marathon races in Brescia and Beijing in 2008, went on to smash the Italian all-comers’ record clocking 2:07:17. It was a all-Kenyan men’s race with runners from the East African country claiming the top 12 positions. Paul Kirui Kiprop, a former IAAF World Half-Marathon champion and winner at the 2008 ING Amsterdam Marathon in 2:07:52, finished second in 2:08:23. Joseph Ngeny, who also started as a pacemaker, completed the Kenyan sweep finishing in third with a new PB of 2:08:41. Hosea Kiprop Rotich, who started with a PB of 2:07:24 set in Paris, dipped under the 2:10 barrier clocking 2:09:47 for fourth place.
Dado, who entered the Rome Marathon race with a 2:37:34 PB set in Kosice in 2008, produced a major surprise taking the win in the women’s race, smashing her lifetime best to 2:27:08. Tetyana Filonyuk from Ukraine and Haile Lema Kebebusch from Ethiopia also run under their previous PB clocking respectively in 2:27:43 and 2:28:08. Italian Marathon hope Anna Incerti set the second best performance of her career finishing fifth in 2:29:33.
The men’s race started at a fast pace in the first part of the race where pacemaker Festus Langat went through the first 10 km in 29:48. Despite the cold wind the Kenyan pack formed by pacemakers Langat, Edwin Kimutai, Joseph Lomala, Philemon Tarbei Kirwa and Kiptoo maintained the fast pace reaching the 15 km mark in 45:01, inside a sub-2:07 pace. The leading group featured Kenyans Julius Kipyego Keter, Paul Kirui Kiprop, Philemon Rotich and two runners from Ethiopia Abraham Kabeto and Birbo Guta.
They reached 20 km in 1:00:33 but the pace slowed at 21 km (1:03:55). At 22 km Joseph Ngeny, who started to pace the second group, caught up with the leading pack and decided to continue until the end.
The pack was still together at the 30 km mark. Pacemakers Langat, Kiptoo, Tarbei and Paul Kirui passed the 30 km mark in 1:31:03, followed one second behind by Joseph Ngeny, Hosea Rotich, Abraham Kabeto, and Philip Manyim.
At 32 km Kiptoo, Ngeny, Manyim (winner at the Berlin Marathon and second in Rome in 2005) and Kirui broke away from the rest of the field. At 35 km, pre-event pacemakers Kiptoo and Ngeny pulled away from Manyim by three seconds and from Kirui by five. At 39 km Manyim fell apart fading fom fourth to ninth place. Kirui managed to catch up with Ngeny in the final two kilometres finishing in second place. Kiptoo finished very strongly in the final kilometres taking an amazing win with the second best time in the world this year behind Haile Gebrselassie’s 2:05:29 in Dubai.
“I decided to break away at 35 km because I felt very well,” Kiptoo said. “I was in top form and I decided to try.
Kiptoo, who hails from Kabsabet, said he began running in 2006, “following the inspiration of Martin Lel, who is my training partner.” Both are coached by Claudio Berardelli.
It was the third career Marathon win for Kiptoo, who clocked 2:09:24 in Brescia and 2:10:14 in Beijing last year.
“Kiptoo’s win was not a surprise because I knew he is very strong,” Kirui said. “We belong to the same Doctor Rosa’s team but I train in Eldoret. I felt pain in the final stretch of the race but 2:08:23 is not too bad. I would like to take part in the World Championships in Berlin this summer.”
Ngeny, third in Milan in 2006 in 2:09:27, paced the second group but decided to run until the end and he was rewarded with a new PB of 2:08:41. “I felt fresh and relaxed and I decided to try at 22 km when I caught up with the first group,” Ngeny said.
The leading group who was made up of nine women set a 2:26 pace in the early part of the race, going through the 10 km mark in 34:33. Ukraine’s Tetyana Felonyuk and Kenya’s Lena Cheruiyot (PB 2:26:00 set in Paris in 2008), Gebre Roman and Firehiwot and Haile Lema Kebebush, three runners from Ethiopia, Kenyan Jemeli Kimaiyo Risper, China’s Sun Weiwei and Italian Anna Incerti continued to run in the front group, passing 15 km in 51:59. They reached the halfway mark in 1:13:06 at a 2:26 pace.
Filonyuk, Dado and Lema formed the leading trio reaching 30 km in 1:44:03 with a one-second gap over Cheruiyot. Incerti was in fifth place two seconds adrift but began fading at 32 km.
Dado upped the pace breaking away from Filonyuk at 32 km and injected a strong pace in the final part of the race (35 km in 2:00:56) dropping Filonyuk by 45 seconds at 40 km (2:18:22).
“I set my previous PB of 2:37:34 in Kosice where I ran in poor weather conditions,” said Dado, who received her invitation from organisers only last Wednesday. “I got the chance to run here and I was rewarded with this win.”
Dado is from Arsi, the region that is home to Haile Gebrselassie. She said she was inspired by photos of Abebe Bikila’s victory in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. “Bikila has been a great inspiration for me today. I run in a good training group under the guidance of a good coach.
Behind Dado, her compatriot Kebubush finished third improving her past record in the Rome Marathon where he finished seventh in 2007 and sixth in 2008.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1 Benjamin Kiptoo Koulum (Kenya) 2:07:17
2 Paul Kiprop Kirui (Kenya) 2:08:23
3 Joseph Ngeny (Kenya) 2:08:41
4 Hosea Kiprop Rotich (Kenya) 2:09:47
5 Philip Kiprop Sanga (Kenya) 2:10:09
6 Philemon Kipkirui Rotich (Kenya) 2:10:26
7 Vincent Kiptoo Kiplagat (Kenya) 2:10:33
8 Francis Kiprop (Kenya) 2:11:13
9 Philip Manyim Kipkurgat (Kenya) 2:11:21
10 Albert Matebor Kiplagat (Kenya) 2:11:33
1 Firehiwot Dado (Ethiopia) 2:27:08
2 Tetyana Filonyuk (Ukraine) 2:27:43
3 Haile Lema Kebebush (Ethiopia) 2:28:08
4 Jemeli Kimaiyo Risper (Kenya) 2:29:16
5 Anna Incerti (Italy) 2:29:33
6 Lena Jemutai Cheruiyot (Kenya) 2:30:18
7 Ibina Ivanova (Russia) 2:30:21
8 Larissa Zousko (Russia) 2:31:28
9 Sun Weiwei (China) 2:32:03
10 Marcella Mancini (Italy) 2:33:54