Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono and Portugal’s Filomena Costa triumphed at the Zurich Maraton de Sevilla, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, clocking 2:09:40 and 2:28:01 respectively on Sunday (22).
Both winners set personal bests and Costa, in particular, has every reason to be happy with her performance in the Spanish city, improving by more than three minutes on her 30th birthday.
The men’s race opened at a very even pace set by the pacemakers who led a large group of 10, featuring the main favourites, to 10km in 30:20. The 3:02-3:03 per kilometre rhythm was kept going nicely over the next 10km section, the 20km split being 1:00:50.
Halfway was reached in 1:04:00 with a large contingent of nine African athletes in the leading pack and on schedule to break the course record of 2:08:33 set in 2014 by Kenya’s Cosmas Kiplimo.
Just after 25km, Cherono injected a brisker pace which only the fastest man in the field, his fellow Kenyan Jafred Chirchir Kipchumba, who can boast of a best of 2:05:48, could follow.
Cherono then ticked off several successive kilometres under the 3:00 and he went through 30km in slightly under 1:31 to strengthen his course record chances.
From that point, Cherono was out on his own alone despite his rhythm and pace declining slightly over the next five kilometres as the weather started to warm up. Approaching the end of the race, the thermometer tipped 16 degrees Celsius.
Cherono was timed at 35km in 1:47:05, the official splits showing 1:04:03 and 1:05:37 for his two halves.
Chirchir Kipchumba, a former winner of the Eindhoven Marathon, came home second in 2:10:26 while Bernard Kipkorir Talam completed a clean sweep of medals for Kenya by getting the third spot in the podium in 2:11:33, a personal best by over three minutes.
“I felt very strong over the first half, I was running comfortably inside the large pack; then I realised the pace had decreased a bit so I decided to attack as my compatriot Jafred Chirchir has a better PB than mine. I broke away from the field with determination and was confident of keeping my pursuers at bay,” said Cherono.
“Unfortunately, I could not maintain the 3:02-3:03 pace but I’ll come back here for sure as the circuit is fantastic, one of the best I’ve ever seen,” added the winner.
Costa coasts home
The women’s race was soon reduced to a three-way fight between Ethiopia’s Abebech Tsegaye Bekele, Kenya’s Mercy Jelimo and Filomena Costa.
Surrounded by a large group of men, Bekele and Jelimo took command and dictated the pace but Costa seemed to be running quite comfortably at their shoulder and so it proved.
The leading trio reached 10km point in 35:07 and then halfway in 1:14:04.
By that stage it was clear that the course record of 2:26:03, set in 2009 by Portugal’s Marisa Barros, was highly unlikely to fall.
Both Bekele and Jelimo began to falter around 28 kilometres into the race, leaving Costa on her own with just male club runners for company.
Costa’s second half was actually just slightly faster than the first: 1:14:04 to 1:13:56) en-route to a finishing time of 2:28:0, the second fastest women’s time in Seville and more than three minutes faster than she had ever run before.
Bekele came in a distant second but still in a personal best time of 2:33:49 while Jelimo was third in 2:34:52.
“I’m incredibly and doubly happy as I managed the win, a huge career best and it’s my birthday today. Can I ask for more?” commented the delighted Costa.
“I ran tucked behind the Africans in the first half while waiting to make my move. I pushed a bit the pace from the 25km on and stayed very focused on my target of lowering my PB. In addition I made the qualifying time to compete at the Beijing Worlds.”
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF