Lawrence Cherono shattered the course record at the TCS Amsterdam Marathon, clocking 2:04:06 at the 43rd edition of this IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday (21).
Running in nearly ideal conditions - 12 degrees at the start, with cloudy skies and very light winds - Cherono clipped more than a minute from the 2:05:09 course record and lifetime best he set last year. The 30-year-old Kenyan also broke the Netherlands' all-comers record of 2:04:27 set by Duncan Kibet in Rotterdam in 2009.
A lead group of 14, including Cherono and Kenenisa Bekele, sped through the opening five kilometres in 14:33 and 29:08 through ten, in range similar to the 14:29 and 29:01 splits that propelled Eliud Kipchoge to his world record run in Berlin last month. The leaders reached 15 kilometres in 44:03 and and 20 in 59:00, well inside the 59:52 course record pace that guided Cherono last year.
When the half was reached in 1:02:11, 11 men still remained in contention: Cherono, Bekele, Ethiopians Mule Wasihun, Solomon Deksisa, Tadu Abate, and Yenew Alamirew, Kenyans Gideon Kipketer, Laban Korir, Hillary Kipsambu and Jonathan Korir, and Kaan Özbilen on Turkey. But after 25 kilometres (1:13:48) the lead group slowly began to unravel.
The last remaining pacesetter, Edwin Kiptoo, completed his chores just before the 30 kilometre-mark, with Bekele, Özbilen and Alamirew falling back soon thereafter. At 33 kilometres Jonathan Korir and Kipketer were next to drop, eventually leaving just Cherono, Wasihun and Deksisa to duke it out for the win.
As they reached the Vondelpark, Deksisa dropped off the pace. Cherono switched gears near the city's Filmmuseum before pulling away for the decisive victory.
"I am happy with my race," said Cherono, whose performance equalled the fourth fastest run of 2018. "Today it was mainly the weather that was very good: little wind and an ideal temperature. That made it possible to run harder this year. My goal was to run 2:04 and that worked."
Wasihun and Deksisa were next, clocking 2:04:37 and 2:04:40 respectively, also under the previous course record. There was good depth behind them. Kipketer was fourth in 2:06:15, Özbilen fifth in 2:06:24 and Laban Korir sixth in 2:06:33. Abate (2:06:47) and Jonathan Korir (2:06:51) also broke 2:07. Bekele meanwhile didn't finish, dropping out near his hotel at about 40 kilometres from where he chose to walk back to his room.
The women's race was also close until the waning stages with Ethiopian Tadelech Bekele successfully defending her title in 2:23:14 ahead of compatriots Shasho Insermu (2:23:28) and Azmera Gebru (2:23:31).
Desi Jisa was fourth in 2:23:39 with Linet Masai, a former world 10,000m champion, fifth in 2:23:46, a notable debut for the 28-year-old Kenyan. Another high profile debutante, Meseret Defar, was seventh clocking 2:27:25.
"We started quite fast, but in the end it became a very exciting race, during which I fought back to the leader and overtook Insermu," said the 27-year-old Bekele, who clocked her 2:21:40 personal best in London earlier this year. "I kept my own pace and kept trust that I could win."
The Dutch titles went to Michel Butter and Miranda Boonstra, who clocked 2:17:18 and 2:42:07, respectively.
Eric Roeske and Bob Ramsak for the IAAF