Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands Conditions for the 35th edition of the Egmond Half Marathon today were far from ideal with Ethiopia’s Eshete Wondimu and Kenyan Hilda Kibet of the 12,500 runners coping the best with the stormy conditions that prevailed.
There storm winds blowing from the North Sea pushed the tide so high up onto the beach - on which most of the first half of the race is run before entering paths through the dunes - that the start of the race had to be delayed by one hour. Even then the beach path was very narrow and sometimes the runners had to be careful not to get their feet wet.
The day he arrived at Egmond aan Zee, Eshete Wondimu saw the sea for the first time in his life, it was also the first time the 22-year-old Ethiopian had travelled to Europe to race.
Considering the gales that blew Wondimu proved to be a very strong athlete indeed, covering the Half Marathon distance in 1:10:14 leaving Juwawo Wirimai from Zimbabwe thirteen seconds behind and last year’s winner Dutchman Kamiel Maase twenty seconds adrift.
A large group of around fifty athletes went rather slowly through the first three kilometres in the village of Egmond aan Zee. On the beach, where the stormy wind was coming in from the sea the field broke-up quickly and a lead group of four was formed. Maase, who will run the Lake Biwa Marathon in March, was doing most of the work in front of the Ethiopians Mondimu, Wellay Amere, and Zimbabwean Wirimai.
“In the dunes we were running at 85/90 per cent of our strength,” said Maase afterwards. “There was a lot of wind. Several times one of us accelerated but nobody could get away, In the final kilometres we were three as the second Ethiopian lost ground. In the final phase Wondimu accelerated and all of a sudden he was gone. A very strong guy!”
In the women’s race, which started 8:46 minutes ahead of the men’s contest, a sprint finish by Dutch based Kenyan Hilde Kibet beat of the challenge of Ethiopia’s illustrious Gete Wami, the former World 10,000m champion. The two passed the finish line on the Egmond Boulevard with the same time of 1:13:25 with Kibet just getting her nose in front.
Kibet, who should soon get Dutch citizenship, and hopes to run her first marathon this year, was surprised with her win, the second time in three years.
“It was a surprise I could beat such an famous athlete as Gete Wami. I am very happy. The last five weeks I trained in my homeland Kenya. I will go there back tomorrow to train again for the coming season,” confirmed the winner.
Wim van Hemert for the IAAF
Very windy, start delayed by one hour due to high sea.
Temp: 8 degrees C
1 Eshete Wondimu Eth 1:04:14
2 Juwawo Wirimai Zim 1:04:27
3 Kamiel Maase Ned 1:04:34
4 Wellay Amare Eth 1:04:58
5 Michel Butter Ned 1:05:44
6 Mesfin Adimasu Eth 1:06:04
7 Wilson Kigen Ken 1:06:15
8 Robert Cheboror Ken 1:06:15
1 Hilda Kibet Ken 1:13:25
2 Gete Wami Eth 1:13:25
3 Pauline Wangui Ken 1:15:11
4 Fatima Baouf Bel 1:15:15
5 Tegla Loroupe Ken 1:18:12
6 Suzanne Hahn Ger 1:18:24
7 Merel de Knegt Ned 1:18:30
8 Petra Kaminkova Cze 1:19:09
Full results: www.egmondhalvemarathon.nl