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Loroupe retains Marathon Crown at dawn of New Millennium

Loroupe retains Marathon Crown at start of the New Millennium
Sean Wallace-Jones for IAAF

1 January 2000 - With a typical display of power and fluidity, Kenya’s Tegla Loroupe clinched victory in the women’s race at the IAAF Rome Millennium marathon, in a winning time of 2:32:04. Although Loroupe’s winning time was well off her world best performance of 2:20:43, it will still ensure her place in the history books as the winner of the first major marathon of the third millennium.

The IAAF Rome Millennium Marathon had started in Saint Peter’s Square after the benediction of the head of the Roman Catholic Church, His Holiness Pope John Paul II:

"My warmest greetings to all those participating in this great Marathon in the City of Rome, a singular event that will inaugurate this jubilee year for the athletes of the world. A special greeting for the heads of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the President of CONI (the Italian National Olympic Committee), the Mayor of Rome and all of the other authorities here today.

"Dear athletes, amateurs, organisers and those of you responsible for this great sporting adventure, you have chosen the first day of the year 2000 for this now traditional event.

"I am pleased to bless all of you participating in this competition and those of you, still more numerous, who will take p art in the so-called "Stracittadina" (fun-run). At the dawn of a new year – of an extraordinary year 2000 – running through the streets of the City of Rome, you will be messengers of peace and brotherhood.

"Yours is a race that is long and demands commitment and fatigue, for which you have prepared through the appropriate training. It is important for every runner to reach the finishing line.

"Life may be compared to a singular marathon, that we are called upon to run, each in our own way and at our own pace. But the finishing line is the same for us all: our meeting with Christ. It is my fervent wish that, thoughout this Jubilee year, every man and woman become aware of the sense and value of life and devote it to the service of their fellows, according to the providential designs of God.

"Dear brothers and sisters, have a good Marathon! That this race may be a celebration of sport and of brotherhood. A Good Year 2000 to you all!"

Then, to the sounds of the bells of Saint Peter’s, the start was given to the IAAF Millennium Marathon (no firearms are allowed in the Vatican).

First to show among the elite women was Russia’s Svetlana Netchoeva, who set off at a blistering pace and held the lead for the first couple of kilometres before being passed by local favourite Patrizia Ritondo, Tegla Loroupe and Milkah Chepkiyeny(KEN), with Edatto Gadissie (ETH), Jackline Jerotich (KEN) and Meserat Kotu from Ethiopia forming a tightly bunched leading pack as they passed the five kilometre mark in 17:48, with just six seconds separating the leader from the last of the pack.

Progressing well, in almost perfect, if slightly cold conditions – 6/8C°, brilliant sunshine and light breezes – the leaders reached ten kilometres in just under 36 minutes (35:58), though by this time it was Loroupe, Netchoeva and Jerotich sharing the lead and trailed by Kotu and Ritondo, who was gradually dropping back as the leaders powered forward.

Loroupe started to pull away from the others as they reached 15 km (53:40), putting just a couple of seconds between herself and Edatto Gadissie and Svetlana Netchoeva, with these three over a hundred metres ahead of the following group.

Reaching the half marathon point, the field had regrouped again, with Loroupe and Edatto clocking 1:15:21 and Chepkiyeny, Netchoeva, Yelena Tsukhlo (BLR) and Irina Safarova hot on their heels and a mere three seconds separating the whole pack.

At this point Loroupe decided it was time to turn on the gas and she tightened up the pace, managing to build up a 20 second lead by the time she went through the 25km point in 1:28:50, trailed by Edatto, Kotu, Chepkiyeny, Netchaeva and Safarova. Loroupe had increased this leaf to 29 seconds by the time she passed 30km.

With Edatto now started to show again, and moving up in the wake of Loroupe, who was feeling some pain in her right thigh muscles, she succeeded in reducing Tegla Loroupe’s lead to just seven seconds as 26 year-old Loroupe took the tape and her first title of the new millennium.

"I am quite happy with the result," Loroupe said after receiving her the Primo Nebiolo Trophy (named in honour of the late IAAF President, who passed away just 54 days before the IAAF Rome Millennium Marathon, which had been his brainchild).

"I have been training in Kenya during the past weeks and there is quite a difference in the temperature. On top of that I have had quite a bad cold for the past few days."

"The important thing for us," said her coach and manager Volker Wagner," was that Tegla win the race without any injury. I was a little concerned for her cold and had said to her not to worry about the time and that she should slow down, or even pull out if she was having any problems.

"But then again, you know Tegla, she just does not know how to go slowly!"

IAAF President Lamine Diack expressed his great satisfaction with the event: "You know, being here makes me very proud and also gives me a sense of great humility.

"I never imagined that I would be here, in St Peter’s Square on the First of January 2000, watching a great athletics event that had been blessed by His Holiness the Pope.

"It is a great honour and privilege for us to see the interest that His Holiness has conferred on our sport."

Leading Results of the women’s race:

1 1
Tegla Loroupe KEN 1973
2 2
Gadissie Edatto ETH 1973
2:32:11 +0:07
3 6
Helen Kimutai KEN 1977
2:33:47 +1:43
4 25
Svetlana Netchaeva RUS 2:36:34 +4:30
5 7
Irina Safarova RUS 1969
2:38:00 +5:56
6 13
Svetlana Ponomarenko RUS 1969
2:38:33 +6:29
7 14
Pilar Ramos ESP 1972
2:40:38 +8:34
8 4
Milkah Chepkiyeny KEN 1976
2:40:49 +8:45
9 3
Irina Kazakova FRA 1968
2:41:41 +9:37
10 8
Rima Dubovik UKR 1964
2:42:12 +10:08
11 16
Meseret Kotu ETH 1981
2:42:12 +10:08
12 10
Patrizia Ritondo ITA 1974
2:44:16 +12:12
13 5
Yanfang Wang CHN 1971
2:45:04 +13:00
14 12
Vilija Birbalaite LIT 1966
2:48:13 +16:09
15 15
Yelena Tsukhlo BLR 1954
2:51:03 +18:59
16 538
Paola Giacomozzi ITA 2:51:13 +19:09
17 17
Julia Del Rio CHI 1969
2:51:28 +19:24
18 855
Stella Pesole ITA 2:56:29 +24:25
19 284
Maria Boselli ITA 3:03:22 +31:18
20 234
Barbara Paczos POL 3:03:49 +31:45