Kenya’s Dickson Tuwei and Morocco’s Kaoutar Boulaid triumphed at the 34th Zurich Maratón de Sevilla, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday (25).
Running in nearly ideal weather conditions, Tuwei clocked 2:08:18 while Boulaid’s winning time of 2:25:32 broke the course record by more than half a minute.
The men’s race opened at a frantic pace as the two kilometre point was reached in 5:55, ten seconds ahead of schedule. Once the organisers managed to slow the pacesetters, it was the first pacer, Spain’s Carlos Castillejo, who led the main group through 10 kilometres in 29:58. All the main favourites were tucked in behind him except for Spain’s Jesús España who opted to travel in a second group, well behind.
Castillejo, 39, led the lead group through the halfway point in 1:03:30, suggesting that Kenyan Erikus Titus’s course record of 2:07:43 set last year was in serious jeopardy. The only non-African in the eight-member lead group was Spain’s Javier Guerra, a marathoner with 2:09:33 credentials.
Pacesetters Luke Kibet and Kiprono Menjo then took command of the rhythm which decreased slightly over the next stretch, crossing 30 kilometres in 1:30:47, still on course record pace. Once the rabbits dropped out, it was Kenya’s Laban Kipkemboi Mutai who dictated the pace with his fellow Kenyans Tuwei, Andrew Kimtai and Douglas Chebii running closes while Guerra still remained in the group.
That quintet passed 36 kilometres in 1:49:32, a split which ended any course record ambitions turning the attention to the victory. Despite the huge support received from the home crowd Guerra began to lose ground just before the 39-kilometre point. Shortly afterwards it was Chebii who lost contact with the leaders, leaving Mutai, Tuwei and Kimtai.
The trio --the fastest entrant Mutai (2:08:01) and the unheralded Tuwei and Kimtai-- fought fiercely for the win but Kimtai began to falter just before entering the stadium, leaving a two-horse battle between Mutai and Tuwei. The latter finally prevailed thanks to a late burst of speed some 200 metres from the finish to romp home in a career best of 2:08:18. Mutai clocked 2:08:20 while Kimtai secured the minor place on the podium thanks to a PB of 2:08:28.
Guerra managed to overtake Chebii before the 41st kilometre to finish a creditable fourth in 2:08:33 to slide exactly one minute from his previous best, with Chebii fifth in 2:08:39, also bettering his PB set last year here when he came fourth.
Former European 5000m champion Jesús España finished eighth in 2:13:20 to get Spanish championships silver and secure his berth for the European championships in Berlin next August.
“The circuit is fantastic, very flat and comfortable, the pacesetters did a great job so everything was OK today,” Tuwei said. “I’m very satisfied with my clocking today but I’m sure I can run faster.”
Boulaid holds off Ethiopian challenge
Although the Ethiopian contingent kicked-off as favourites in the women’s race, Morocco’s Kaoutar Boulaid the clear leader from the start. Perfectly paced by Portugal’s Ricardo Alexandre Gonçalves, the 28-year-old covered the opening 10 kilometres in 33:54 and her 3:24/km pace remained unchanged through the halfway point which she hit in 1:11:54. That was well inside the required pace to break the course record of 2:26:03 set in 2009 by Portugal’s Marisa Barros.
By then, the Ethiopian quartet of Shewe Hayimanot Alemayehu, Getachew Zinash Debebe, Adugna Sechale Delasa and the 2015 world youth 1500m champion Badane Bedatu Hirpa ran 32 seconds back.
By the 30-kilometre checkpoint the Moroccan led with 1:42:38 but Alemayehu and Hirpa had cut their the gap to 25 seconds while first Debebe and later Delasa fell off the pace.
Boulaid’s pace slowed a bit in the following kilometres but she still was on course record schedule and maintained her margin of 25 seconds on the Ethiopian pair by the 40-kilometre point, which she reached in 2:17:52.
The Moroccan, who was runner-up in Seville two years ago, didn’t falter over the closing stages and broke the tape with the course record and a massive career best of 2:25:32 with a handsome margin of 31 seconds. Alemayehu got the better of Hirpa on the track to take second in 2:25:47 to Hirpa’s 2:25:50, PBs for both. All three dipped under the previous course record of 2:26:03.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect a 2:25 clocking but a time in the 2:27-2:28 region,” said Boulaid, who is based in Spain. “I went out fast but managed to maintain the pace in the second half and beat the Ethiopians.”
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF