President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic was the official starter for nearly 4000 marathoners who took part in this morning’s 13th Volkswagen Marathon Prague, but hotter than expected temperatures slowed times, as the heat took its toll on the runners.
From the start a group of 15 set a 2:09 pace but unfortunately with temperatures going over 20C already by 10am the lead pack started quickly to break up, with Oleksandr Kuzin of Ukraine taking the race through halfway in 1:05:10.
By the 30th kilometre only one of the original leading pack was still in contention and that was Stephen Kibiwott, who was by then running solo in the lead, some 30 seconds ahead of Luka Chelimo and Joseph Riri of Kenya (PB 2:06:49), one of the pre-race favourites. But the heat was to mark his demise too as six kilometres later he had to stop and it looked like he was giving up for good. Bravely he did manage to re-start his race and ultimately he ended up finishing in a brave 4th place in a time of 2:13:50. Kibiwott would later drop out.
Of the three runners who past him to contest the title, there were two 33-year-olds from Portugal, Hélder Ornelas (PB 2:09:59), the winner of the 2005 Milan Marathon, and Paulo C. Gomes (PB 2:15:56), and the other was Kenyan Luka K. Chelimo (PB 2:18:42).
Chelimo was the pace setter of this trio but 2 kilometres from the end Helder went past to finish first in 2:11:49, ahead of Chelimo who smashed his personal best with 2:12:36, with Gomes taking third in 2:12:51, also slashing away at his career's previous fastest.
Pavel Faschingbauer, was the first Czech home in 7th with 2:18:55, so retaining the national title.
Nailya Yulamanova of Russia was the winner of the women’s division in a time of 2:33:10, and was followed home by Malgorzata Sobanska of Poland (2:35:02), and Veronika Brychcinova of the Czech Republic took third in 2:40:50, and the national title. Defending race champion Alina Ivanova of Russia was one of many who was forced to drop out due to hot weather.
A total of 3200 runners finished within the 6 hours allotted for the marathon.
Monika Klementová (LOC) for the IAAF
1. Ornelas Ornelas POR 2:11:49,
2. Luka Chelimo KEN 2:12:36,
3. Paulo Gomes POR 2:12:51,
4. Joseph Riri KEN 2:13:50,
1. Nailya Yulamanova, RUS 2:33:10,
2. Malgorzata Sobanska POL 2:35:02,
3. Veronika Brychcinova CZE 2:40:50,