Pre-race favourite Lemi Berhanu of Ethiopia lived up to expectations to register a convincing victory in the men’s race while his compatriot Waganesh Mekasha rallied to take the women’s title at the Hengshui Lake International Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label road race, in Hengshui, China, on Saturday (29).
Berhanu clocked 2:08:51 while Mekasha upset a strong field in 2:25:57, a lifetime best.
Berhanu was the star attraction in the field, with a personal best of 2:04:33 from the 2016 Dubai Marathon and with marathon titles from Boston, Dubai, Xiamen and Zurich under his belt. It was his first appearance in Hengshui and the 24-year-old stayed in the leading group patiently for the first half of the race before making his move near 30 kilometres.
He broke clear for a sole lead and soon extended the margin to more than 20 metres. When he reached the 36 kilometres mark in 1:48:40, Berhanu was still well on track to challenge the course record of 2:07:38 set by Ethiopian Markos Geneti in 2014.
However, it seemed Berhanu’s focus was just on the win instead of the record. With a comfortable lead in hand, Berhanu eased down in the final kilometres. Running relaxed, he even started his celebration on the home stretch, breaking the tape in 2:08:51 with a smile on his face.
It was Berhanu’s third marathon victory in China following his 2:13:10 win at the 2014 Taiyuan Marathon and the 2:08:27 victory in Xiamen last year.
Herpasa Negasa, another Ethiopian, finished second in 2:09:14, improving his career best by 63 seconds. Kenya’s Dominic Ruto finish third in 2:09:49, which is 41 seconds slower than his PB set in Rome last year.
The 26-year-old Mekasha upset a quality field, which included sub-2:25 runners Workenesh Edesa of Ethiopia and Kenyan Caroline Kilel as well as past winner Meseret Legese..
Mekasha emerged triumphant from a two-woman duel in the last five kilometres. She and her countrywoman Edesa led the race to 38 kilometres before the 26-year-old Edesa, whose PB of 2:24:04 was set in her victory at the 2016 Xiamen International Marathon, pulled away and soon built an advantage of some 15 metres.
But Edesa didn’t enjoy the sole lead for long. Mekasha reeled in Edesa metre-by-metre and passed the latter at the 40 kilometre mark. Looking back to check Edesa’s position from time to time, Mekasha left no chance for her rival to turn the tables. She kept pushing ahead and wrapped up the victory with the second fastest winning time in the race’s seven-year history, 14 seconds shy of the 2:25:43 course record set by Kenya’s Agnes Jepkemboi Kiprop in 2015.
It was the second victory of the year over the classic distance for Mekasha and also the second time for her to improve her lifetime best in 2018. Five months ago the rising Ethiopian cut more than 17 minutes off her PB to win the Padova Marathon in 2:29:18. Since her marathon debut in Singapore in 2014, the efficient Mekasha, who was the fourth finisher in the U20 race at the 2011 World Cross Country Championships, has collecting three titles from four races.
Edesa finish second in 2:26:28, which was the first marathon she finished since she took the second place in Xiamen last January.
Gebiyanesh Ayele clocked 2:26:54, improving her PB by five and a half minutes, to complete a sweep of podium for Ethiopia. It is the first time for Ayele to dip under the 2:30 barrier whose previous PB of 2:32:25 was achieved from her third finish at the 2017 Guangzhou Marathon.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF
Metto and Cherop win in Warsaw
David Metto and Beatrice Cherop were the victors at the PZU Warsaw Marathon on Sunday (30), winning the IAAF Bronze Label road race in 2:12:44 and 2:35:22 respectively to achieve just the second Kenyan double in the 39-year history of the race.
Metto formed part of the lead pack through five kilometres, reached in 15:49, before opening up a gap on his opponents to lead by 13 seconds at 10 kilometres. Ethiopia’s Ayele Woldesemayat soon rejoined him, though, and they passed through the half-way mark together in 1:06:48.
France’s 2012 European 1500m silver medallist Florian Carvalho, making his marathon debut, was 20 seconds adrift at this point, forming part of a three-man chase pack.
Tsige started to struggle over the course of the next 10 kilometres and was eventually caught by Carvalho before 30 kilometres. Metto had a 35-second lead over Carvalho at this point and it grew to exactly one minute at 35 kilometres, reached in 1:50:03.
Having covered the second half quicker than the first, Metto won in 2:12:44 to secure his second marathon victory on Polish soil this year, following his triumph in Debno back in April.
Carvalho held on to second place in 2:15:14 with Poland’s Adam Nowicki coming through for third place in 2:17:43, one second ahead of Tsige.
Cherop’s win was even more decisive, but during the closing stages she paid for her ambitious early pace.
Running alongside Ethiopia’s Aynalem Woldewariya Woldemichael, Cherop passed through 10 kilometres in 34:45. The 32-year-old, who finished second in Warsaw last year, dropped Woldemichael a few kilometres later and reached the half-way point in 1:14:31, suggesting an improvement on the 2:29:32 course record was possible.
By 30 kilometres, reached in 1:46:58, Cherop’s pace had dropped, but her lead had grown to almost four minutes. Moldova’s Olesea Smovjenco, meanwhile, was closing in on Woldemichael and trailed the Ethiopian by just 15 seconds.
Cherop’s pace continued to suffer but her lead was unaffected and she went on to win in 2:35:22. Fast-finishing Pole Anna Lapinska came through to take second place in 2:38:41 with Israel’s Elena Dolinin following close behind in 2:38:46. Smovjenco was fourth and Woldemichael fifth.
Dibaba and Thompson take Great Scottish Run titles
In a battle between two winners of the world marathon title, Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba came out on top at the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow on Sunday (30), defeating Bahrain’s Rose Chelimo in 1:09:15.
Dibaba, the 2015 world marathon champion, was contesting just her second race of the year, her only other competitive appearance being a seventh-place finish at the London Marathon back in April.
Although still not quite at her best, the 28-year-old dropped world marathon champion Chelimo after about 23 minutes of running. Having passed through five kilometres together in 16:24, Dibaba had a 25-second lead at 10 kilometres, reached in 32:49.
Dibaba maintained a metronomic pace throughout and passed 15 kilometres in 49:16, by which point her lead over Chelimo had grown to 51 seconds. She held on to her comfortable lead until the end, crossing the line in 1:09:15 to become just the third Ethiopian woman to win in Glasgow. Chelimo finished second in 1:10:07, comfortably ahead of USA’s Alia Gray (1:13:32).
Britain’s Chris Thompson successfully defended his title in the men’s race. Tracked by compatriot Luke Traynor and Poland’s Marcin Chabowski in the early stages, the three men passed through five kilometres together in 14:28.
Chabowski then dropped back a bit while Thompson edged ahead of Traynor three minutes later. Thompson reached 10 kilometres in 29:13 with a 16-second lead over Traynor. Chabowski clawed his way back into contention in the second half, though, and caught Traynor in Bellahouston Park at about 14 kilometres.
Thompson was away and clear and won comfortably in 1:02:07, his fastest time in six years. Chabowski continued to make up significant ground in the closing stages. Having been 35 seconds behind the Briton at 15 kilometres, he halved the deficit to just 17 seconds by the finish line, placing second in 1:02:24 to shave two seconds from his PB.
Traynor placed third in 1:02:56, finishing 47 seconds ahead of two-time Commonwealth marathon champion Mike Shelley.