Venice, ItalyHelena Kirop from Kenya and Tadese Aredo from Ethiopia took the honours at the 26th edition of the Venice Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, on Sunday (23).
Kirop smashed her PB as well as the Venice course record with an impressive 2:23:37, a great time considering the difficult course made up of 13 bridges. She set her previous PB last year in Dubai where she ran 2:24.54. Before Venice the 35-year-old runner, who lives in Eldoret, showed her potential last month when she finished runner-up at the Lisbon Half-Marathon in 1:08:57 behind this year’s London Marathon winner Mary Keitany. It was her third Marathon this year after a third place in San Diego (2:27:01) and a ninth place in Dubai (2:27:41).
The women’s race set off at a fast pace from Villa Pisani in Stra. The leading group, formed by Kirop, 2010 Carpi Marathon winner Hellen Wanjiku Mugo, and Ethiopians Harun Makda Haji (winner in Venice last year) and Fantu Jimma Eticha went through 10Km in 33:52, a course record pace. At 15Km Mugo lost ground under the initiative of Kirop and Haji who continued to run at a steady pace which indicated that they were running very fast (3:24 per kilometre) at a rhythm inside a 2:24 finish.
After am easier first half the course becomes more challenging at 30 km inside the San Giuliano Park, a large green area situated before the last course stretch over the Ponte della Libertà (Bridge of Freedom) where the race is usually decided.
Kirop pulled away from Haji and remained alone against the clock. Despite a strong headwind Kirop still pushed hard at a 3:22 per kilometre pace. Kirop romped home in 2:23:37 improving the previous course record of 2:27:02 held by Kenyan Lenah Cheruiyot since 2008.
Kirop lives in Eldoret in a large home with her husband and her three children (one son and two daughters). She bought her home after finishing third in Dubai in 2010.
“I thank the organisers for giving me the chance to run my PB here,” said Kirop who belongs to the group trained by young Italian coach Gabriele Nicola. “In the first part it was a flat course but in the second part the course looked like the Kenyan hills. I am proud with my PB on a very nice course.”
Men’s race -
Tadese Tolosa Aredo scored his third win in three Italian Marathons after Florence 2010 and Padua 2011. Aredo narrowly missed his 2:09:02 PB but managed to win a hard-fought race against last year’s Venice winner Simon Mukun in a contest which remained undecided until the final two kilometres. The top three runners all dipped under 2:10. Aredo crossed the finish-line in 2:09:13 beating Mukun by five seconds. Ethiopian Debebe Wolde finished third in 2:09:56.
Ukraine’s Vasyl Matvichuk acted as a pacemaker in the first half leading the front group which was formed Aredo, by Tanzania’s Dickson Marwa, Kenyan Ronald Rutto Kipchumba, Nicholas Koech (third in Prague in 2:07:23), Patrick Muriuki, Simon Mukuni and Debebe Wolde. They went through 5Km in 15:12 and 10Km in 30:21 at a sub-2:09 pace. Matvichuk reached halfway in 1:04:17 before dropping out.
The race reached the highlight on the Ponte della Libertà when Aredo, Mukun and Wolde forced the pace and pulled away from the rest of the field. Although they had to fight against the wind, they still kept a fast pace. Mukun, who pursued a back-to-back win after taking the victory last year in 2:09:35, went to the front for seven kilometres. At 40Km the race developed into a neck-to neck battle between Mukun and Aredo, with the 24-year-old Ethiopian breaking away at 41 kilometres at the world famous St. Mark Square with a decisive kick.
Mukun, who hails from the same village as former World record holder Tegla Lourope, lowered his PB with 2:09:18.
Danilo Goffi, winner in Venice in 1995 and former European silver medallist, was the first Italian to cross the finish line, clocking 2:14:41.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1. Tadese Aredo (Ethiopia) 2:09:13
2. Simon Mukun (Kenya) 2:09:18
3. Debebe Wolde (Ethiopia) 2:09:56
4. Desta Gebrehi Gebremedin (Ethiopia) 2:11:55
5. Amhmed Nasef (Morocco) 2:12:10
6. Patrick Muriuki (Kenya) 2:13:42
7. Danilo Goffi (Italy) 2:14:41
1. Helena Kirop (Kenya) 2:23:37
2. Harum Makda Haji (Ethiopia) 2:27:20
3. Jimma Fantu Eticha (Ethiopia) 2:30:25
4. Workenesh Tola (Ethiopia) 2:33:01
5. Yevgeniya Danilova (Russia) 2:33:35