The oldest international European marathon (82nd annual) in the east Slovakian city of Kosice ended on Sunday in warm weather. Nearly 3000 people from 31 countries were running in different races (more than 600 in marathon) at the International Peace Marathon.
At the start the temperature was 14 degress but that was upgraded to nearly 20 at the finish. That is probably why the course records were not beaten, mainly the men field was clearly slower in the second half of the race. Pacemakers Mihalo Iveruk from Ukraine and World Championships participant Rafal Wojcik from Poland led the field at halfway at 1:06:08 which was on course with the record (held by Adam Dobrzynski, Poland 2:12:35 from last year).
But then they dropped out (26k) and title defender Dobrzynski too because of breath problems. Four Kenyans remained in front along with English runner Andi Jones chasing the Commonwealth Games standard. At one stage it looked like the Kenyans would sweep the podium, then Jones tried to remain with them but at the end the runner with the best PB in the field finished third with a strong finish – Jan Bialk from Poland (2:10:50 back in 1997).
Training partners David Maiyo and David Kosgei made the pace sharper after the 35th kilometre and Maiyo was the stronger some 2km before the finish. The winning time of 2:16:07 was a slight disappointment but it was clearly due to the warm weather in the second half of the course. The course itself is quick enough - in Kosice in 1997 the only sub one hour times were achieved in the history of the World Half Marathon Championships.
Maiyo who is from Eldoret, has competed for only 3 years and Kosice was his 7th marathon. He belongs to the coaching group of Joseph Rono. This year he was the fastest entrant thanks to his 2:13:00 from his 10th position in Rome.
“The course is quick, but the warm weather was against us. At the 25th km mark I started to believe I could win. The supporters around the course were great. I need to come back and achieve a far better time,“ said Maiyo.
Andi Jones got his qualifiying time as he finished 6th with 2:17:52, with two other Kenyans Collins Edep and Sammy Rotich in 4th and 5th positions. The best home runner was Marcel Matanin in 8th; he was crowned Slovak Marathon champion for 2005.
A very good race was shown by Polish female runner Edyta Lewandowska as she was leading from the early kilometeres until the finish, her halfway pace was exactly what she wanted with 1:15:50 and aiming to attack the course record of Alena Peterkova (CZE) 2:31:28 back in 1989.
But she also faded in the second half and at the end she was lucky because UK runner Jenny Clague from Liverpool in her third marathon finished very strongly in new PB an Commonwealth Games standard of 2:38:04.
Lewandowska‘s winning time in her 5th marathon was 2:37:48. Both times belong to the top ten of women all-time Kosice ranking. Other interesting runners were UK paralympian Paul Pearce with a new personal best of 2:34:34 and an overall 16th finish.
The Slovakian prime minister Mikulas Dzurinda finished his 20th jubilee marathon (and 15th in Kosice) with a solid 3:42:15 performance; he finished in position 210.
“It was much tougher than last year not only because of the weather, but also because I did not had so much time to train. I even can say that was one of my toughest marathons, but the people of Kosice were great, my great thanks belongs to them,“ said the exhausted prime minister.
Men: 1. David Maiyo, KEN 2:16:07 8000 E, 2. David Kosgei, KEN 2:16:24 4000 E, 3. Jan Bialk, POL 2:16:48 3000 E, 4. Collins Edep, KEN 2:17:34 2000 E, 5. Sammy Rotich, KEN 1000 E, 2:17:44, 6. Andi Jones, GBR 2:17:52 600 E, 7. Pawel Ochal, POL 2:19:57 500 E, 8. Marcel Matanin,SVK (SVK Champion) 2:20:37 200 E, 9. Leszek Biegala, POL 2:21:32 150 E, 10. Kiyotaka Shimamura, JPN 2:21:41 (debut) 100 E, 11. Guido Fassbender, GER 2:24:16, 12. Richard Gardiner, GBR 2:26:50, 13. Dave Norman, GBR 2:29:56, 14. Vlastimil Bukovjan,CZE 2:31:40 (first also in M40 category), 15. Imrich Pastor 2:31:51 (2nd in SVK champs), 16. Paul Pearce, GBR (paralympian) 2:34:34,...45. Peter Polak 2:54:41 (former national team runner and ultrarunner he finished his 150th marathon),...210. Mikulas Dzurinda (Slovak prime minister) 3:42:15
Women: 1. Edyta Lewandowska, POL 2:37:48 4000 E, 2. Jenny Clague, GBR 2:38:04 PR 2000 E, 3. Svitlana Nekhorosh, UKR 2:40:37 1500 E, 4. Agnes Czibok, HUN 3:05:50 250 E, 5. Sylvia Bilikova (SVK Champ) 3:07:58 150 E, 6. Anna Balosakova 3:14:04 100 E (first in W40 category)
Alfons Juck for the IAAF