Felix Limo, the winner of last year’s Fortis Marathon Rotterdam was the hot favourite to defend his title but the victory in the 25th edtion of the race was taken by his far more experienced compatriot Jimmy Muindi. The 31-year-old East African crossed the finishline on the Coolsingel in the heart of Rotterdam in 2:07:50. Kenyan born but now Dutch citizen Lornah Kiplagat took the women’s honours in 2:27:36.
The silver anniversary edition of the Rotterdam event was plagued by rain, wind and very low temperatures (11 degrees C). In the beginning it looked as if the weather would be not be too much of a hinderance with the 12,500 field starting under an overcast sky but as the race progressed the weather got increasingly worse.
MEN – Limo hindered by hamstring problems
Jim Svenoy, the Norwegian steeplechaser who lives in Rotterdam, was a perfect pacemaker. He led a big leading group of fifteen which included all the favourites through the first 5km in 14:55, and clocked 10km in 29:44 at 10 kms and went through 15km in 44:36. The race was very fast with all these split times inside those of Paul Tergat when he ran the World record of 2:04:55 in Berlin two years ago.
However, after 15km the weather gods were no longer with the runners. It started to rain and the north western wind became far stronger. Later a lot of athletes complained about the cold and cramps in the legs.
At 20kms ( 59:56) the leaders had lost eleven seconds on Tergat’s split and halfway (1:03:20) the difference with the World record split (1:03:04) was already sixteen seconds. By 25kms (1:15:19) there were nine runners in the leading group: the Kenyan pacemakers Samson Barmao, Simon Kiprop and James Kwambai, followed by Felix Limo, Titus Munji, Tadeyuki Ojima (Jap), Jimmy Muindi, Yusuf Songoka and Jackson Koech.
By 30kms (1:30:22) the final pacemakers finished their job and at this point Munji dropped back just as did Ojima and Songoka.
So three runners, Muindi, Koech and Limo passed 35kms (1.45.40) in the lead and it was clear that the winner would come from this trio.
The decisive moment came between 37 and 38 kilometres in the Kralingse Bos (Kralingen Wood), where the course is a little bit on an upward slope as the race leaves the part of Rotterdam which is 6.5 metres below sea level, Muindi accelerated. Suddenly, the four times winner of the Honolulu marathon, was away an clear.
Koech was aware of the break but suspecting something might still come from his training partner Limo, who was clearly in trouble at that point, waited too long to answer Muindi’s move, and the race was effectively over.
So the 31-year-old crossed the finish line in 2:07:50, to improve on his previous best of 2:08:25 (2002, 5th Berlin). Jackson Koech who finished second (2:08:02) in what was his debut at the Marathon distance later confirmed, “I saw that Felix (Limo) had problems and I decided to go but Muindi was too far away.”
Muindi said he was very happy with the victory - “I felt very strong after 30 kms and as I saw that Felix Limo was in trouble at 35kms I decided to go.”
Limo for his part was not surprisingly upset. “It was a disappointment for me. But I cannot blame anybody. Around 32/33 kilomtres I felt my right hamstring, which was already troubling me. At the moment Muindi went away I could not follow. I hope to meet him again in a better shape.”
WOMEN – An ‘ill’ Lornah Kiplagat takes an easy win
Lornah Kiplagat was an easy winner of the women’s event but the run itself was not easy for the Kenyan born Dutchwoman.
From the beginning it was clear that no woman in the field would threaten her but Kiplagat had for several days before the race been plagued by a severe cold and a headache, and while on the day of the race she felt better she was not hundred percent.
”I had the hope of bettering my personal best of 2:22:22 here but that was impossible today. The second part of the race was very difficult. My legs were heavy. I felt it already after the first five kilometres. In the warming-up before the race I could not get warm. I’m happy with my victory and my first Dutch marathon title.”
Nearly four minutes behind Kiplagat came Portugal’s Ana Dias in second place (2:31:27) and Spain’s Isabel Eizmendi took third (2:33:14)
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF
1. Jimmy Muindi (Ken) 2:07:50 (PB)
2. Jackson Koech (Ken) 2:08:02 debut
3. Felix Limo (Ken) 2:09:01
4. Gudisa Shentema (Eth) 2:09:46 (PB)
5. Christopher Cheboiboch (Ken) 2:10:13
6. Elijah Chemwolo Mutai (Ken) 2:10:27
7. Titus Munji (Ken) 2:11:07
8. Yusuf Songoka (Ken) 2:11:42 debut
9. Jose Manuel Martinez (Esp) 2:11:56
10. William Kiplagat (Ken) 2:12:11
11. Kamiel Maase (Ned) 2:12:51 (national champion)
12. Kamel Ziani (ESP) 2:12:52
13. Shane Nankervis (Aus) 2:13:07 (PB)
14. Jeroen van Damme (Ned) 2:13:48 (PB)
15. Tadeyuki Ojima (Jpn) 2:14:08
16. Ismail Sghyr (Fra) 2:14:29
1. Lorah Kiplagat (Ned) 2:27:36 (national champion)
2. Ana Dias (Por) 2:31:27
3. Isabel Eizmendi (Spa) 2:33:14
4. Anna Thompson (Aus) 2:33:20
5. Kristyna Loonen (Ned) 2:33:28 (PB)
6. Yesenia Centeno (Esp) 2:36:43
7. Fumi Murata (Jpn) 2:39:08
8. R. Moore (Nzi) 2:39:58
9. Anne van Schuppen (Ned) 2:40:51
10. Madalini Gatzea (Gre) 2:43:50
11. Magda Karimali (Gre) 2:49:08
12. Ingrid Eichberger (Aut) 2.49.54