Kenya’s Stanley Biwott dominated a quality field with an imperious solo performance to win the Bogota Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, in 1:03:15 on Sunday (26).
Biwott had entered the race as the overwhelming favourite for one of South America’s only two IAAF top status road races after having run the fastest half marathon in the world this year with his 59:20 performance in The Hague.
From the start, he shot to the front and quickly established his superiority.
With the Colombian capital sitting at an altitude of around 2600 metres, this race was never going to be about fast times for Biwott – who finished fourth in the London Marathon earlier this year – but he gave a good impression in the opening kilometres that he was targeting Geoffrey Mutai’s course record of 1:02:20.
However, soon the kilometres splits started to get slower.
By the time he passed 10km in 31:00, he had built a lead of 41 seconds over his closest pursuer, Ethiopia’s Tadesse Tola, but with his pace now lagging well behind that of the course record, it soon became clear Biwott would just have to settle for the victory.
Midway through the race, the sun also began to break through the clouds and Biwott admitted afterwards that the rising temperatures and lack of competition may have cost him a faster time on the day but nonetheless, his performance was one of utter supremacy.
In a bid to create a race within a race, the elite women were set off seven minutes before the men, which was supposed to result in a convergence of genders near the finish, but by the time Biwott passed 11km, he had already flown past the leading women and had nothing but open road in front of him.
He reached the finish in Simon Bolivar Park and punched the air in delight, his winning time of 1:03:15 giving him a yawning 92 seconds to spare over Tola, who came home in 1:04:47. Kenya’s Kimutai Kiplimo finished third in 1:05:14.
“It was not easy,” reflected Biwott. “It was humid and windy sometimes, and the course was tough. I was expecting to run 62 but I was running all alone so that makes the time a little bit slow. If there was competition, I think I would have run 61.”
Gobena takes women's honours
The women’s race, meanwhile, proved a much more cagey affair, with no one willing to put the pace from the start.
Four athletes initially ran together at the front – Ethiopians Birhane Dibaba, Shure Demise, and Amane Gobena, along with Kenya’s Sharon Cherop – as they passed 10km in a relatively pedestrian 37:11.
With the other three content to run in her slipstream, it was Demise who took on most of the pacing duties, but her efforts were never enough to shake the presence of the trio behind.
Several times, Demise motioned to the others to come through and take the pace, but there were few takers on that particular invitation.
By 15km, the leading group had been reduced to three as Dibaba began to drop off the back of the pack and it was then that Gobena made her move to the front, running alongside Demise.
Demise soon re-established command of the race and continued to push the pace but try as she might, she just couldn’t shake Gobena, or indeed Cherop.
In the final kilometre, Gobena again made a move to the front and this time it proved decisive; she quickly opened a 10-metre lead on Demise, which she held all the way to the finish, coming home in 1:13:44.
“I’m very happy to get the win,” said Gobena after the close contest. “I found it very difficult. The wind was quite strong.”
Demise finished a close second in 1:13:47, with Cherop third in 1:13:55.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF
1. Stanley Biwott (KEN) 1:03:15
2. Tadesse Tola (ETH) 1:04:47
3. Kimutai Kiplimo (KEN) 1:05:14
4. Tsegaye Mekonnen (ETH) 1:05:58
5. Javier Guarin (COL) 1:06:08
1.Amane Gobena (ETH) 1:13:44
2. Shuru Demise (ETH) 1:13:47
3. Sharon Cherop (KEN) 1:13:55
4. Guteni Shone (ETH) 1:15:29
5. Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (USA) 1:16:10