Tanzania’s former world junior cross country champion Andrew Sambu, couldn’t hide his joy on Sunday.
His win in the 7th Prague International Marathon (PIM) combined with a new personal best helped break the Kenyan dominance of the event of the last five years.
In the women’s race Maura Viceconte for her part helped maintain another tradition – that every year at least one course record is improved.
”What more could I have wished for” admitted Sambu, who started the race as an outsider, only to become the first Tanzanian ever to win here. ”Nothing really bothered me. The course was excellent and I’d be delighted to come back to defend my title next year.”
He was happy for another reason though. ”I really believe that Tanzania can come back to be a force in long distance running, as it was 15 years ago. My win might even inspire that!”.
Sambu’s winning time of 2:10:14 is his best ever. Four Kenyans filled the spots immediately after him. David Ngetich came in second five seconds after the winner, while the pre-race favorite William Kiplagat also finished under 2:11, on 2:10:29. Marathon debutant Barnabas Rutto just missed out on a podium finish while, former PIM winner Eljud Kering was fifth. Ukraine’s Andrej Naumov claimed sixth spot and along with it the distinction of being the first non-African finisher.
Kiplagat, in spite an obvious dissapointment for the result, also praised the course and blamec it on the day. Ngetich was pleased with the way he ran. ”If it weren’t for a back injury, I would have gone under 2:10 and, perhaps, have won it”, said the Kenyan who, too, promised to come back for a ”rematch” next year.
In the women’s race Italian national record holder Maura Viceconte confirmed pre-race odds by winning easily with a time of 2:26:33 a new course record and more than five minutes ahead of Kenya’s Jacquieline Kerotich (2:32:01) and almost 11 from local Czech favorite Alena Peterkova (2:37:07) who was third.
”I hope to improve it even further when I come back next year” smiled the Italian for her new record. She said here that she plans to skip the World Championships in Edmonton, Canada, this summer and opt to compete in New York instead. ”I hope to run a 2:24, 2:25 time there” she added.
Kerotich had only good words for her performance and didn’t acutally mind second place on the day. ”I did my best. I’ m really pleased”. Unlike the Kenyan woman, Peterkova felt that it was her diet which actually failed her! ”I thought originally of having breakfast around 5.30 a.m. It didn’t work out; it was too early; when I came back it was too late. As a result I had nothing to eat and after 20 kms I started feeling really hungry! As it is I’m pleased with the result” said the Czech woman who ran her first serious competition in more than eight months because of injury. Peterkova was second in the same race last year behind Alina Ivanova of Russia.
Defending champion Ivanova was to appear here but she did not start due to health problems.
Lameck Aguta, the Boston Marathon champion of 1997, came in 22nd with a time of 2:24:14. While it might sound poor by his standards, the Kenyan was only happy to see the finish line of a Marathon after four years out of action because of a life threatening injury. ”To be able to run here, and, more importantly, to be able to finish is simply a great thing for me…”he said..
Visit www.online-ranking.it to see the official results of the 7th Prague International Marathon.