Biding his time until the 41st kilometre, Joachim Nshimirimana of Burundi produced a commanding victory at the 11th Ljubljana Marathon on Sunday (29), a race which also served as the World Military Marathon Championships.
Despite trailing Kenyan Benjamin Kiptaurus by more than 200 metres when 40 kilometres into the race, Nshimirimana easily made up the deficit over the waning stages to reach the line in 2:14:14, 15 seconds ahead of Kiptaurus, whose 2:10:56 career best from Padova in 2004 was the fastest in the field.
“It’s wonderful to win here again,” said the 33-year-old, who’s been based in Grosseto, Italy, for the past 12 years. With his win through the street of the Slovenian capital in 2004, Nshimirimana set the Ljubljana record - and his PB - of 2:13:31. He said he thought he had a chance to improve the standard when he approached 35 kilometres, but when the morning’s early still skies turned windy over the course’s final hilly segment, he thought it best to just run for the win.
Pacers David Kipngethich and Joseph Lomala brought a relatively large lead group of 10 through the half in 1:05:49, but Nshimirimana thought it prudent to take a more cautious approach and instead ran alone, nearly a minute behind the leaders. “My experience here really helped,” he said. “I’ve gotten to know the course well.” Last year, he finished a disappointing eighth but had little trouble rebounding this time around en route to his second fastest career performance.
World Military title for Qatar's Amajid
The race also served as the 40th World Military Championships, with teams from 18 nations competing. That title went to Qatari Awad Aman Amajid, who, after running with the lead pack for most of the race, hung on to finish third overall in 2:15:08. Ukrainian Olesander Sitkovskiy was fourth (2:15:45) and Kenyan Nickson Kiptolo fifth (2:17:06), both in their debuts over the distance. Belgian Gino van Geyte (2:18:59) and Jaber Ahmed Jumah of Qatar (2:19:02), seventh and eighth overall, were second and third in the chase for the World Military title.
Inga Juodeshkiene of Lithuania, the overall women’s winner, also took top honours in the Military Championships, clocking 3:01:52.
The overall winners in the Half Marathon, Tone Kosmac (1:07:11) and middle distance star Sonja Roman (1:19:12), were crowned national champions over the distance.
The marathon in Slovenia's capital continues to grow with another record turnout. In its inaugural edition in 1996, just 145 men and eight women finished. This year, nearly 10,000 participated in the marathon, half-marathon, 10km and children’s races.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
1. Joachim Nshimirimana, BDI, 2:14:14
2. Benjamin Kiptaurus, KEN, 2:14:29
3. Awad Aman Amajid, QAT, 2:15:08 (World Military Champion)
4. Olesander Sitkovskiy, UKR, 2:15:45
5. Nickson Kiptolo, KEN, 2:17:06
6. Portipher Dombojena, ZIM, 2:18:17
7. Gino van Geyte, BEL, 2:18:17
8. Jaber Ahmed Jumah, QAT, 2:19:02
9. Nabil Benkrama, ALG, 2:22:37
10. Jesus de Lieizio, BRA, 2:23:27
1. Inga Juodeshkiene, LIT, 3:01:52