There were runaway wins for two late entrants, Kenyans Martin Mathathi and Lucy Kabuu Wangui, at the Great North Run on Sunday (18) with Mathathi setting a new course record of 58:56 to become the first man ever to dip under 59 minutes in this IAAF Gold Label Road Race on the South Shields sea-front.
“I thought I’d give it a go,” said Mathathi with considerable understatement after the race.
“My manager told me at half-way I was on course to go under 59 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. It’s the best run of my career.”
Mathathi had a handsome lead when he broke the tape, but not as impressive at Kabuu who had built up a huge 2:20 gap over former champion Jessica Augusto of Portugal as the Kenyan set the third fastest ever time for this course of 1:07:06.
While Mathathi has been prominent this summer, finishing third in the Kenyan trials and fifth in the World championship 10,000m, this was only Kabuu’s second race back after giving birth to daughter, Angel.
After doing a lot of her running in Japan, Kabuu moved back to Kenya to train with double World champion Vivien Cheruiyot and former World champion Linet Masai. “I have been training well,” said Kabuu, “and I expected to win.
“I have had wonderful support from my husband and family since I moved back to Kenya,” said the 2006 Commonwealth 10,000m champion.
Men’s Race -
Crossing the Tyne Bridge, Kenyan Jonathan Maiyo and pre-race favourite, London Marathon winner, Emanuel Mutai were setting the pace at a good lick, ticking off the first mile in 4:32.
Shortly after, a group of five had broken away early on with Mathathi and Olympic medallist Micah Kogo leading Mutai, Maiyo and Moroccan Jaouad Gharib in close order.
After a fifth mile in 4:36, Mutai had surprisingly been detached and was 30 metres in arrears accompanied by Gharib. Up front Mathathi, Kogo and Maiyo were running conservatively.
The first big break came after 26 minutes of running with Maiyo forcing the pace and immediately opening up a gap over Mathathi with Kogo a further 10 metres back.
But it was significant that Mathathi was holding the gap and not allowing Maiyo to build up too much of a lead. Mutai meanwhile had broken away from Gharib and was moving well.
Maiyo’s push for a decisive lead seemed to galvanise Mathathi who finally responded and in turn set about building up a lead over his fellow Kenyan.
Such was Mathathi’s fine pace judgement that at 11 miles, he was only four seconds off Zersenay Tadesse’s course record and clearly untroubled.
Maiyo at this stage appeared safe in second and still going well but 100 metres down on the leader with Mutai who had moved into third.
As he swept down onto the sea-front for the long finish straight, excitement was building as Mathathi went past the 12-mile banner 10 seconds ahead of Tadesse’s benchmark.
The crucial mile was the 12th which Tadesse has gone through in 4:45, but Mathathi had dispatched in 4:31 after a 4:29 springboard in the 11th.
Then it was just a question of getting through the never-ending straight for the fastest Great North Run since local Mike McCleod won the first edition in 1981.
In second was Maiyo (59:27) and third Mutai a further 25 seconds in arrears.
Women’s Race -
Jo Pavey led a group of 12 through the first mile in 5:16, shadowed by the Portuguese duo of Augusto and Marisa Barros.
As they passed the Gateshead stadium Commonwealth Marathon gold medallist Irene Jerotich and Kabuu had broken up the field with a swift 5:05 mile for a total of 16:08 at three miles.
Already off the lead group of five was British hope, Mara Yamauchi, who was unable to go with the change of pace and was to drop out after eight miles feeling unwell.
On a slight uphill Kabuu kept the pace going and only Adere was able respond, with Augusto and Jerotich running together 20 metres down.
At five miles Kabuu had broken away with yet another fast 5:07. As Adere faded from contention, Augusto moved into second and seemingly comfortable despite the huge gap that had opened up.
At the seven-mile marker, Kabuu had really pressed the accelerator for her first sub-five minute mile of the race in 4:49 and followed that with another sub-five minute at 4:57.
Kabuu had a best of only 1:09:47 from 2004, but was on course for slashing a good two minutes from that time after passing the eight-mile marker in 40:43.
At 10 miles in 50:58, Kabuu was looking imperturbable. Second and third were still the two Portuguese, Barros and Augusto, but both a long way down on the Kenyan.
Fighting for fourth place was a trio of Pavey, Jerotich and debutante Helen Clitheroe, but they were some 80 metres down on Barros.
Up front and for the first time since she took the lead, Kabuu had started to falter with a 12th mile in 5:17, but with just the long home straight to go she was still on for a personal best by some distance.
Summoning up a final sprint, Kabuu broke the tape in 1:07:06 with Augusto (1:09:27) with Barros (1:10:29) in the minor placings.
Michael Butcher for the IAAF
- 58:56 course record for Martin Mathathi at the Great North Run (Mark Shearman) © Copyright
- Lucy Kabuu of Kenya wins the 2011 Great North Run (Mark Shearman) © Copyright