Sao Paulo, BrazilKenyan James Kwambai and Ethiopian Ayalew Yimer won the 84th “Corrida Internacional de São Silvestre”, held in the streets and avenues of São Paulo on the last day of 2008. The traditional year-ending event was contested by more than 20,000 runners on a warm day of 28ºC and 50% humidity over the distance of 15Km.
Both athletes confirmed their participation at the most important South American road race only a few days before the event, but showed great fitness and determination. Kwambai’s time was 44:42 and Yimer’s 51:37.
The 32-year-old Kwambai closed a successful 2008 season where he won the “Rock n’ Roll” Half Marathon in West Virginia (60:22) and placed second to Haile Gebrselassie at the Berlin Marathon (pb of 2:05:36) when the Ethiopian legend set the current World record of 2:03:59. In São Paulo Kwambai had an intense battle with compatriot Evans Cheruiyot, winner of the 2008 Chicago Marathon (pb of 2:06:25).
The veteran Kwambai, a professional of the streets who curiously never represented his country at a major international event, dominated the race from the beginning, and pulled away from Cheruiyot at the “Avenida Marquês de São Vicente”, after passing the 10Km mark. Cheruiyot stayed close, but was unable to match the strength of Kwambai. Cheruiyot finished in 45:16, 34 seconds behind the winner.
“It was an excellent race, and I had to give it all to take the victory,” remarked Kwambai. “I’m very thankful to the people who cheered us along the course, and to those who are happy with my victory. We have no secrets. We train hard in Kenya, and that’s the reason of our success,” said Kwambai.
His victory in São Silvestre was the eleventh by a Kenyan athlete (by four men). Another Kenyan, Kiprono Mutai, completed the podium (45:28), while Tanzanian Marco Joseph was fourth (45:37). The first non-African finisher was Colombian William Naranjo (45:47), while the top Brazilian was Raimundo Aguiar (7th in 46:05). Franck de Almeida, one of Brazil’s main hopes for the race and winner of the 2006 edition suffered stomach problems and abandoned by the 10th Km mark.
Yimer wins with ease – women’s race
Tanzanian Sarah Ramadhan set the early pace of the women’s race which commenced seven minutes before the men’s. Ayalew Yimer always seemed in control behind the rabbit, although later admitted that the pace was a bit strong. Yet, at the 8th Km mark, she made her move, and won with a comfortable advantage of 51 seconds over Brazilian Fabiana Cristine da Silva (52:28).
Twenty-one year-old Yimer, 3rd at the 2008 African Championships at 10,000m, and owner of PBs of 8:35.50 at 3000m (2008), 14:57.23 at 5000m (2006), and 31:06.84 at 10,000m (2008), was thrilled with her victory. Yimer become the second Ethiopian women to win in São Silvestre after Derartu Tulu’s triumph in 1994.
“I feared the Kenyans at the beginning, especially with a strong pace, but my legs remained strong, and the Brazilian people gave me good luck,” said Yimer.
The event organized by the “Organização Cásper Líbero” distributed a total of 168,500 Brazilian Reais (some 72,000 US Dollars) in prize money. Each winner earned the sum of 25,000 Reais (10,700 USD, approximately). Both winners missed the 20,000 Reais bonus (8500 USD) for breaking the course records of Kenyans Paul Tergat (43:12 set in 1995) and Hellen Kimaiyo (50:26 from 1993).
Vanderlei de Lima retires
Brazilian Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima was one of the protagonists of the day, in spite of finishing in the 102nd place in 52:12. The 39 year-old from Paraná, and Olympic bronze medalist in the 2004 Marathon marked the end of his competitive career at São Silvestre, and received homage with the “Troféu Marco da Paz” given by the organizers.
“It’s a very emotional day... I feel I was more cheered here that at the Olympic marathon in Athens,” said de Lima, also a two-time Pan-American Games Marathon champion (1999, 2003).
Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF
84th Corrida Internacional de São Silvestre – São Paulo
1- James Kwambai (KEN) 44:42
2- Evans Cheruiyot (KEN) 45:16
3- Kiprono Chemwolo Mutai (KEN) 45:28
4- Marco Joseph (TAN) 45:37
5- William Naranjo (COL) 45:47
6- Nicholas Koech (KEN) 45:52
7- Raimundo Nonato Sousa Aguiar (BRA) 46:05
8- Eduardo Antônio da Silva (BRA) 46:17
9- Giomar Pereira da Silva (BRA) 46:35
10- Hélder Ornelas (POR) 46:39
1- Ayalew Yimer (ETH) 51:37
2- Fabiana Cristine da Silva (BRA) 52:28
3- Marily dos Santos (BRA) 52:48
4- Edielza Alves dos Santos (BRA) 53:02
5- Lúzia de Souza Pinto (BRA) 53:52
6- Cruz Monata da Silva (BRA) 53:57
7- Priscah Jeptoo (KEN) 53:58
8- Diana Landi (ECU) 54:07
9- Rosa Alba (ECU) 54:41
10- Sueli Pereira da Silva (BRA) 54:46