David Cheruiyot en route to his third Ottawa victory in 2008 (Victah Sailer) © Copyright
Report Ottawa, Canada

Cheruiyot Completes Hat Trick - Ottawa Marathon report

David Cheruiyot successfully defended his title in the 2008 ING Ottawa Marathon today winning a tactical race in 2:10:59 to earn US $15,000.

The ING Ottawa Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

The temperature at the 7:00 a.m. start was 8 degrees but without any cloud cover whatsoever it rose to 17 degrees by the finish.

After the pacemaker dropped out at 24km Cheruiyot followed countryman Vincent Kiplagat and Ethiopia’s 21-year-old Solomon Molla who took turns injecting some life into the race. By 36 kilometres Kiplagat had fallen back and it was a two man race. The pair remained locked in battle until the final 150 metres when Cheruiyot sprinted ahead for the victory, his third in four years. He also won in 2005.

Molla was pleased with his second place time of 2:11:04.8. He goes back to Addis Ababa $10,000 richer.

“I feel good for the win but we missed the course record,” the 38-year-old Cheruiyot said afterwards. “For the course record we needed to be at 1:31 at 30km but we were at 1:33 so I knew that we wouldn’t get the record.”

He set the course record of 2:10:36 a year ago. Organisers had also secured a 2008 Hyundai Tucson car and offered it to the winner of both the men’s and women’s races if they beat the fastest times run on Canadian soil. John Kelai of Kenya ran 2:09:30 in Toronto and Romania’s Lidia Simon ran 2:26:01 to win the 2001 IAAF World Championships.

Since his victory last year the affable Cheruiyot won the Istanbul Marathon, finished third in Singapore and then won Houston back in January.

Clearly a crowd favourite he signalled his joy raising three fingers in the air as he crossed the finish line.

“I love the race. The organisers, they are good. And that’s why I keep coming back,” he added.

The race also served as the Canadian championship and Giitah Macharia, a former Congolese runner and now a Canadian citizen, won the national title in 2:16:54, four seconds ahead of Ottawa's own Mathew Mcinnis. That earned him a CAN $5000 and a spot on Canada's 2009 World Cup team.

In debut, Leghazoui runs solo to victory

The women’s race was a solo effort from Morocco’s Asmae Leghazoui who recorded an impressive 2:28:43.9 for the victory as well as $15,000 prize money.

“At 26km I made my move,” she said, “It’s my first Marathon. It was hard for me because of that. I ran good. I thought the Marathon would be much faster. But I am very happy because it is my first Marathon. I run alone In Morocco. I run alone, I train alone. I thought it was possible to run faster.”

Leghazoui is from Fez but trains with the Moroccan national team in Rabat and at the high altitude training centre in Ifrane.

Her margin of victory was a whopping five minutes over Elsa Kireeva (2:33:45.2) of Russia. Kebebush Haile of Ethiopia was third in 2:33:47.6.

Canada’s Russian -born Lioudmila Kortchaguina, the four-time winner of the race, was a non-starter only informing the organisers of her status just before the race. She has been nursing an injury in her hip.

The Canadian champion this year is Tara Quinn-Smith of Toronto who ran 2:33:57.3 in this, her debut Marathon. And what a great day for the 28-year-old.

The time guarantees her funding from Athletics Canada as a marathoner, $5000 prize money for the Canadian Championship and $3000 US for her fourth place finish overall as well as a spot on Canada’s 2009 IAAF World Cup marathon team.

Quinn-Smith is part of an innovative distance running program known as the Brooks Marathon Project.

Mike Dyon, President of Brooks Shoes Canada and himself a three time winner of the Ottawa Marathon, purchased a house in Toronto for eleven promising Canadian marathoners to live in. They live rent free and train together full time.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity and it’s a great support,” Quinn-Smith said. “They are covering our rent and all the aspects of your life that you have to worry about when you are training full time and have to work. My husband and I both supply teach a bit also on the side. They also help us with medical support too.”

This is the final year of ING’s sponsorship of the Ottawa Marathon but the event will undoubtedly attract another title sponsor.

Paul Gains for the IAAF