Turin, ItalyKenyans Elija Tarus Meli and Mercy Kibarus took the honours at the ninth edition of the Turin Half Marathon held in ideal weather conditions.
Meli, a 20-year-old runner, set the Turin Half Marathon race record running 1:01:59. The previous course record was held by John Kiprotich who won in 1:02:24 last year. Meli, who is trained by young Italian coach Gabriele Nicola in Iten, smashed his previous PB of 1:03:40 at altitude. He beat this year’s Turin Marathon third placer Joseph Lomala.
Kibarus, a mother of two children, beat former New York, London and Boston Marathon winner Margaret Okayo who is returning to competitions after being sidelined for some years by a series of injuries.
Men’s race -
The men’s race started at a slow pace in the first 5Km run in 15:02. Meli, Lomala and former Venice Marathon winner David Makori formed the leading group. Meli broke away from Lomala at 9Km and went through at 10Km mark in 29:28 after injecting a faster split between kilometres nine and 10 in 2:52.
Meli increased his lead over Lomala to 100 metres reaching the 15Km mark in 44:04 keeping a course record pace. Thanks to a strong second part Meli, who was born on 1 January 1988, broke the 1:02 barrier in his first serious Half Marathon race showing that he has a good potential for the future.
“The race was not very hard. I was confident that I could break the course record,” said Meli.
Meli is a distant cousin of Kenyan runner Michael Kapkyay. It was Kapkyay who asked coach Gabriele Nicola to train Meli last spring. “At the beginning I was not convinced about his qualities but as soon as I started coaching him I realized that he had a good potential,” said Nicola. “There were not good races during the spring season. For this reason he had to wait until spring. He will return to run a good Turin Marathon on 19 April.”
Women’s race -
The winner of the women’s race Mercy Kibarus also comes from the same training group guided by Gabriele Nicola in Iten. Kibarus launched her attack at 6Km pulling away from Okayo and 2008 Turin Marathon winner Vincenza Sicari from Italy who booked her berth for the Olympic Games thanks to her win in the Piedmont city last April.
Kibarus continued to increase her pace building up a solid gap over Okayo and Sicari.
“It was not a very tough race,” said Kibarus. “I want to return to Turin for next spring’s Marathon.”
Kibarus, who comes from Eldama Ravine, the same town of Mubarak Hassan Shami, began running seriously only some months ago after the Abu Dabi Half Marathon. She gave birth to two children. “Mercy decided that she wanted to take running seriously this spring,” said Nicola. “The problem was that she needed to look after her children. I promised her to pay a baby-sitter who could take care of them.”
Okayo finished second in in 1:14:06. “I am planning to run a Marathon race this autumn. I would be very happy to run 2:29 after many injuries,” said Okayo.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1. Elija Meli Tarus (Kenya) 1:01:59
2. Joseph Lomala (Kenya) 1:02:58
3. David Makori (Kenya) 1:04:28
4. Robert Surum (Kenya) 1:04:37
5. Fabio Rinaldi (Italy) 1:05:02
6. Migidio Bourifa (Italy) 1:05:12
1. Mercy Kibarus (Kenya) 1:12:39
2. Margaret Okayo (Kenya) 1:14:08
3. Vincenza Sicari (Italy) 1:14:52