Kenyan Sylvester Teimet took a surprise and fast victory at the Seoul International Marathon today, clocking a course record 2:06:49.
As promised, the 81st edition of the Dong-A Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race also called the Seoul International Marathon, was a fast one at the top end, with the runner-up Gilbert Kiwa also dipping under 2:07 with his 2:06.59 run. Amane Gobena of Ethiopia won the women’s race in 2:24:13, well ahead of China’s Zhou Chunxiu who clocked 2:25:01.
The men’s race began with a fast pace from the start with the first 5Km reached in 15:10. Already the second 5Km was enough to drop most runners from the lead group with only nine left in contention after 10Km. The leaders reached the marker in exactly 30 minutes, with the second 5Km run in 14:50. The next 5Km (15:32) was the slowest in the race, leaving the same group of nine at the front.
Two more were dropped by 20Km (1:00:35) with four Kenyans, two Koreans and Yared Asmeron of Eritrea still in the hunt. The next 5Km was the fastest of the race in 14:43 and although the pace dropped a bit before 30Km (1:30:31), only five were running for the win at this stage. With the pace this good, dramatic changes in the lead were afoot. At 35Km only three Kenyans - Teimet, Kirwa and Paul Kirui were left with compatriot David Kiyeng lagging four seconds. Asmeron suffered badly from 30-35km, losing almost a minute, and the Koreans were going downwards fast too.
Again another fast 5km towards the end (35-40Km) in 14:48 saw former World Half Marathon champion Kirui fall back, leaving on Teimet and Kirwa. Some of the leading Koreans who had been amongst the leaders just a while earlier lost two to three minutes during this 5Km.
The 26-year-old Teimet, who finished third in this race last year, dropped Kirwa over the final couple of kilometers to clinch the victory, lowering his personal best by an unthinkable three minutes and four seconds to 2:06:49. Kirwa ran a season’s best 2:06:59 losing by 10 seconds in the end to join Teimet as the first sub-2:07 runners in Korea. The 30-year-old Kirui was third in 2:07:35, his fastest time in three years and David Kiyeng completed a Kenyan 1-2-3-4 with a 2:09:00 season’s best.
Asmeron lost a lot of ground in the second half of the race finishing in fifth place in 2:11:46, The best Korean was Park Young-Min, who clocked 2:12:43 for sixth. Kim Min in seventh and Yu Young-Jin eighth both set personal bests 2:13:11 and 2:13:13 respectively.
32-year-old Kenyan William Kipsang, a winner here five years ago, ran his first marathon since 2008, but didn’t do well finishing well back in 33rd with a time of 2:24:11.
Gobena strikes in 35th kilometer - women’s race
The women’s contest was run with a very even pace which didn’t promise anything like the sub-2:20 Zhou Chunxiu had clocked here before. Still the race started with a pace well below a 2:25 target with the top runners passing 10Km 33:37. But the next 5Km killed the thoughts of a fast time, a minute slower than the first two in 17:50 and at 15Km there were five runners left at the top.
Again the pace picked up a bit during the next 10Km, which first dropped 20-year-old Korean Kim Sung-Eun and then 23-year-old Chinese Wang Xueqin from the leading trio. By 25Km (1:25:03) only the two main favourites - Chinese Zhou Chunxiu and Ethiopian Amane Gobena, who had already won the Osaka Marathon in January – were left. Kenyan Caroline Kilel was already 14 seconds behind the leading pair and lost more than a minute from 25 to 30Km.
Gobena and Zhou were still together at 30Km, but then the 27-year-old Ethiopian made here move gaining a massive 45 seconds before the 35th kilometre to bag her second major Marathon win this year. Gobena lowered her personal best to 2:24:13 with Zhou, not losing more in the last seven kilometres, in second with a 2:25:01 clocking, her fastest time since 2007.
Kilel held on for third in 2:26:58 and Wang Xueqin set a personal best 2:28:17 for fourth. The young Kim Sung-Eun clocked 2:29:27, also a PB, for fifth. Kenyan Martha Komu was sixth in 2:30:36.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF
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