Madrid, SpainKenya’s Patrick Korir (2:12:07) and Margaret Agai (2:32.23) captured surprise wins at the 35th ‘Rock’n’Roll Madrid Marathon’ held today in the Spanish capital. The 33-year-old Korir headed a clean sweep of medals for his country as he was joined on the podium by fellow Kenyans Enock Mitei and Thomson Cherogony.
This event is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race which was held on a nice day with the thermometre ranging in the 11º-16º range.
While Korir took a sprint victory, Agai – who reportedly was making her debut over the distance in Madrid – became an overwhelming winner taking the better of Ethiopia’s Roman Gebregessese by over two minutes.
Korir’s conservative tactics pays off – men’s race
Feared for the up-hill closing sections, the race opened not particularly fast led by the Spain-based Cuthbert Nyasango of Zimbabwe. By the fifth kilometre point a large group of Africans ruled the event for a 15:22 split, while the tenth kilometre was reached in 30:52, Mexico’s Alejandro Suárez the only non-African in the leading pack.
Erick Kibet perfectly executed his pacing duties as he was timed at 1:04:52 by the halfway point still on schedule for a new course record although the second-half ondulating profile finally defeated that purpose.
Some 27km into the race the defending champion Moses Arusei lost ground from the leading group which whittled down to four in the guise of Mark Tanui, Thomas Cherogony, Enock Mitei and Patrick Korir.
Once the rabbits dropped out, Tanui made most of the pace while Korir ran in fourth throughout to close the leading pack. The 35km point was covered in 1:48:01 and shortly afterwards Mitei broke away with ease to open a slight margin from Cherogony and Korir but Tanui was a solitude fourth.
The race was never decided but Mitei seemed a safe bet for the win as his closest pursuer Cherogony had lost nine seconds by the 40km point which was crossed in 2:04:40 while Korir’s disadvantage had risen to 11 seconds.
However, the extremely difficult closing section of the race played a key role in the outcome of the contest. Mitei – the 2011 Madrid Half Marathon victor – didn’t slow down his rhythm dramatically at any time but Cherogony and Korir managed to reel in him with 350 metres left. Korir’s late burst of speed was magnificent to romp home unopposed in 2:12.07 some six seconds ahead of Mitei, himself one second faster than Cherogony, who has now a full set of podium places in Madrid (1/2010, 2/2011, 3/2012).
A late-time entrant to today’s field, Korir came not particularly far from his career best of 2:11:36 set in Toulouse last year to win the race. He was quoted as saying: “There are so many ups and downs throughout the circuit, especially over the final part of the race which makes the event really tough. I only travelled in third with only one kilometre to go but I was confident of my sprint finish.”
Unheralded Agai beats the Ethiopian squad - women's race
The women’s side witnessed the early lead of Lithuania’s Diana Lobacevske who led a still large leading group by the 10km point which was reached in a cautious 36:33. Among the powerful East European contingent announced only the leader and Russia’s Marina Kiseleva finally took part in the contest.
To compensate for those withdrawals, Kenya’s Margaret Agai and the Ethiopian pair of Roman Gebregessese and Tigist Gebayahu were added to today’s line-up. From the 15th kilometre the African quartet (Ethiopia’s Tigist Worku included) took charge of the race and Lobacevske could not live with their pace beyond the 18th kilometre.
The Half Marathon point took the leaders 1:15:30 and Worku was the first to lose ground on Agai’s relentless pace some 30 kilometres into the race. Shortly afterwards Gebeyahu also began to fade and the contest became a two-horse battle between Agai and Gebregessese, the latter on her second Marathon in 2012 following a 2:34:18 run in Mumbai last January.
After a 2:06:20 split for the 35km section, Agai pulled away from the Ethiopian and from then on she strengthened her leadership to a final gap of 2:17 to secure a Kenyan double today.
In the 10Km local race which opened the day Spain’s Carlos Castillejo snatched a comfortable victory in a pedestrian 30:01 while Vanessa Veiga took honours on the women’s section thanks to another easy run timed at 34:57.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF
Leading Results -
1. Patrick Korir, KEN 2:12:07
2. Enock Mitei, KEN 2:12:13
3. Thompson Cherogony, KEN 2:12:14
4. Mark Tanui, KEN 2:12:23
5. Hailu Dogaga, ETH 2:13:15
6. Paul Kirui, KEN 2:14:09
7. Moses Arusei, KEN 2:16:41
8. Felix Limo, KEN 2:20:06
9. Tilaun Aliyev, AZE 2:20:15
10. Isaac Kosgei, KEN 2:20:33
1. Margaret Agai, KEN 2:32:23
2. Roman Gebregessese, ETH 2:34:40
3. Tigist Gebayahu, ETH 2:36:31
4. Dailin Belmonte, CUB 2:41:07
5. Marina Kiseleva, RUS 2:42:36
6. Tigist Worku ETH 2:43:30
7. Irene Lorenzo, ESP 2:55:38
8. Cristina Rozalén, ESP 2:55:51
9. Nancy Langat, KEN 3:03:19
10. Paqui Fuentes, ESP 3:03:31