Venice, ItalyJonathan Kipkorir Kosgei and Lenah Cheruiyot scored back-to-back wins repeating last year’s victories at the 22nd edition of the Venice Marathon.
Cheruyiot set a new course record running 2:27:02 beating compatriot Anne Kosgei who also lowered her previous lifetime best running 2:28:27. Italian Marathon champion Ivana Iozzia finished third with a new PB of 2:34:52.
Kosgei won a tactical men’s race in 2:12:27 holding off this year’s Turin Marathon winner Philemon Tarbei (2:12:49). Richard Mutai completed the Kenyan sweep in third place with 2:13:31.
Cautious start leads to course record - women’s race
The women’s race did not start very fast. The top runners did not manage to run the race at a regular pace in the first part. Cheruiyot went to the front passing 10 km in 35:13 closely followed by compatriots Mary Pikitany and Anne Kosgei.
The pace was increased when Cheruyiot reached the 15 km mark in 52:29, one second faster than Anne Kosgei, winner this year in Trieste and second in Venice in 2002. Cheruiyot and Kosgei were still on course record schedule at halfway which they clocked in 1:13:14.
Cheruiyot increased her pace pulling away from Kosgei at 30 km inside the San Giuliano’s Park, the vast green area of Venice. At this point Cheruiyot clocked 30 km at 1:44:04 building up a four-second gap over Kosgei. She continued to increase her margin running steadily at a course record pace until the end.
Cheruiyot came to Venice with a previous PB of 2:29:43, a time she set in Rome last March. More recently she warmed up for Venice Marathon title defence winning the Porto Half Marathon in 1:11:23 on 23 September. The 2007 season saw her returning to her best form after maternity leave and a series of injuries.
She comes from the training camp in Iten where she trains with Mary Keitany (silver medallist at the World Road Running Championships in Udine).
“From the start I was aware that I could win and run a new PB” said Cheruiyot. “I was well prepared and very confident.”
The previous course record was held by Ruth Kutol from Kenya who ran 2:28:16 in 2000.
Anne Kosgei also produced a good performance improving her PB from 2:30:09 (set in Venice 2002) to 2:28:27 after a difficult period.
Former volleyball player Ivana Iozzia, who works part time in the textile industry and became a Marathon runner by chance after winning a prize trip to take part in the New York Marathon, dipped under 2:35 running 2:34:52 for third place.
Tactical from the outset - men’s race
The men’s race started slowly (3:13 in the first km) as well. Eljah Nyanuti and David Makori increased the pace at 3 km (3:03) for a first 5 km split in 15:30. The pace in the first half was very irregular (2:56 between 9 and 10 km) for a 10 km split in 30:28.
Nine Kenyans (Nyabuti, Makori, Jonathan Kosgei, Eliud Kimaiyo Lagat, Benjamin Pseret, Philemon Tarbei Kirwa, Boaz Kimaiyo, Hillary Bett and Richard Mutai) and one Ethiopian (Gizaw Kebede Bekele) formed the leading ten-men group at 10 km.
Nyabuti and Makori paced the leading group running in 46:06 at 15 km. Former European junior Cross Country champion Vasyl Matvichuk led the chasing group passing the 15 km in 46:30.
Nyabuti and Makori reached the halfway mark in 1:05:05. Jonathan Kosgei followed three seconds behind with Lagat Kimaiyo, Tarbei, Pseret and Bett.
The race really reached its climax insde the San Giuliano’s Park in the 29th km when Jonathan Kosgei launched his initiative closing the gap on pacemaker Makori who dropped out at 30 km. The course inside the San Giuliano’s Park was made faster this year because 13 bends which created some problems last year to the top runners were removed.
The six leading Kenyans slowed down dramatically over the Ponte della Libertà (Bridge of Freedom) at 35 km and this enabled Matvichuk to close the gap. The athlete from the Ukraine, who is based for most of the year in Italy, seemed to be in contention for a spot on the podium but later faded in the final stages of the race.
The race became very tactical inside the centre of Venice when Kosgei and Tarbei remained in contention for the victory over the 13 challenging bridges of Venice. Kosgei seemed to be running smothly while Tarbei began struggling and was dropped by about 20 metres. Kosgei was still fresh despite the efforts and continued to increase his pace in the final stages of the race building up a comfotable margin over Tarbei.
Mutai won the final sprint for third place over Bett crossing the finish line in 2:13:31.
“The race was much more difficult than last year,” said Kosgei. “The race was run at a very irregular pace. Some sections of the race were run too fast, others were too slow. For this reason I began to push.”
Danilo Goffi was the first Italian in sixth place with 2:14:42.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Leading results -
1. Jonathan Kosgei Kipkorir (Kenya) 2:12:27
2. Philemon Tarbei Kirwa (Kenya) 2:12:49
3. Richard Mutai (KenyaI 2:13:31
4. Hillary Bett (Kenya) 2:13:34
5. Boaz Kimaiyo Kibet (Kenya) 2:14:12
6. Danilo Goffi (Italy) 2:14:42
7. Benjamin Pseret (Kenya) 2:14:51
8. Vasyl Matvichuk (Ukraine) 2:15:28
1. Lenah Cheruiyot (Kenya) 2:27:02
2. Anne Kosgei (Kenya) 2:28:27
3. Ivana Iozzia (Italy) 2:34:52