Running in sizzling and humid conditions, Kenyans Stanley Biwott and Mary Keitany cruised to dominant victories at the seventh Mattoni Olomouc Half-Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Saturday (25).
Biwott clocked 1:00:46 and Keitany 1:08:53, impressive performances given the 32 degree C start time temperatures.
"The course was good, the problem was the heat," said Biwott, who'll represent Kenya in the marathon at the Olympics in Rio in August. "After 5k, I went ahead and made a pace with Richard (Mengich) that I knew I could hold until the finish."
That he did, breaking from his compatriot after eight kilometres to win by more than four minutes. Mengich held on to finish second in 1:05:16 with Geoffrey Kipyego third clocking 1:06:03.
The stifling conditions proved to be a good test of fitness for Biwott pior to his final pre-Rio training. Opening with a 14:09 opening 5k and still managing to threaten the one-hour barrier until the waning stages left Biwott confident.
"I trust my training," said Biwott, who clocked a career best 2:03:51 at the Virgin London Marathon in April and cruised to victory at the TCS New York Marathon last November.
It was a strong test for Keitany as well, who as a reserve on the Kenyan Olympic marathon squad, was hoping to impress team selectors.
“It was a tough race, it was very difficult to run the pace the whole time, especially since I had to do it by myself," said Keitany, who won back-to-back New York Marathon titles in 2014 and 2015 and London Marathon titles in 2011 and 2012.
Alone after 10 kilometres, the 34-year-old finished eighth overall, more than three minutes ahead of Edith Chelimo who clocked 1:12:14. Further back, Joyce Chepkirui clocked 1:12:39 to round out a Kenyan podium sweep.
Organisers and Bob Ramsak for the IAAF