Ethiopia’s Tadese Tola and Kenya’s Purity Rionoripo took the honours at the Bogota Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, in two races that could hardly have been more contrasting on Sunday (31).
Tola, the 2013 world championships marathon bronze medallist, broke away from three Kenyan rivals – Kiprop Limo, Kimutai Kiplimo and Mariu Kipserem – nine kilometres into the race.
Kipserem got back on level terms with Tola in the 13th kilometre as the Ethiopian eased back on the pace and the pair ran relatively easily shoulder-to-shoulder for the next four kilometres until Tola surged again.
This time there was no return for Kipserem as Tola – running his first international race since finishing second in Bogota 12 months – gradually forged a winning lead, crossing the line in 1:05:16 with Kipserem coming home 15 seconds later.
“I felt very strong throughout the race and it was a good competition for me, but the wind did not help much and certainly made it difficult to run fast times,” reflected Tola, who ended a five-year winning streak by Kenyan men at the race and became just the second Ethiopian winner in the 17-year history of the event.
Limo finished a distant third in 1:06:19 while, getting a rousing welcome at the finish line in the Parque Simon Bolivar, the first local runner home was the 42-year-old Colombian international Diego Colorado, who finished sixth in 1:07:40.
Tola’s winning time was the slowest in the history of the race, the modest times being a combination of Bogota’s altitude – some of the Colombian capital lies at around 2600 metres and the slightly undulating course has a high point of 2445 metres – temperatures that peaked at around 21 degrees Celsius, stiff breezes but mainly the unwillingness of the Kenyan contingent to push the pace and challenge Tola.
Marathon world record holder Dennis Kimetto dropped out early in the race with a recurrence of a groin strain above his right thigh, which he first suffered after a recent fall in Kenya.
By contrast, Rionoripo posted the second fastest women’s winning time in the history of the women’s race when she crossed the line in 1:11:56, winning by almost two minutes.
Rionoripo, the 2009 world U18 3000m champion, broke away seven kilometres into the race and seemed immune to the adverse conditions as she powered away from her rivals before winning in a time only superseded by the outstanding course record of 1:10:29 set by her compatriot Susan Chepkemei in 2003.
“"It was very difficult to win, I just thinking about finishing the race. The height of Bogota was the most difficult for me. I'm very happy because Tadese Tola did not reach me, I did not let him reach me," reflected Rionoripo, with the women’s elite runners starting 10 minutes before the men.
Fellow Kenya’s Veronica Nyaruai, the 2005 world U18 3000m champion, finished a distant second in 1:13:41.
Ethiopia’s defending champion Amane Gobena, from whom much was expected after her personal best of 2:21:51 when finishing second in the Tokyo Marathon in February, was second for much of the race but struggled in the final two kilometres and was passed by Nyaraui before finishing third in 1:14:11.
More than 40,000 runner participated in the half marathon and associated 10km race on Sunday morning.