Shura Kitata Tola of Ethiopia and Kenya’s Vivian Cheryuiot won the top prizes at the 36th edition of the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday (29).
Kitata chopped almost two minutes off his personal best in difficult conditions, clocking 2:05:50 while Cheruiyot, the reigning Olympic 5000m champion who's now concentrating on road racing, improved her best to 2:23:35.
Kitata finished ahead of compatriots Kelkile Gezahegn (2:06:56) and Getu Feleke who clocked 2:06:56 and 2:07:46, respectively, to ensure a clean sweep for Ethiopia.
Men's race - Kitata's momentum continues
After a fast opening half of 1:02:30, the decisive move came directly after 30 kilometres with 1:29:42 on the clock as Feleke increased the pace with a 2:51 kilometre. Last year’s winner and runner-up, Kenyans Mark Korir and Martin Kosgey, dropped back while only Feleke’s compatriots Kitata and Gezahegn could maintain the pace.
Feleke was the first to falter, around five kilometres from the finish, despite going into the race as the fastest man with a lifetime best of 2:04:50. Gezahegn was next to succumb, leaving Kitata to forge on to the greatest win of his brief career which also includes a triumph at last April's Rome Marathon.
“I expected to win from the start," Kitata said. "From 30 kilometres I was confident I would win as the three of us went away from the others. I hoped to run faster but the weather didn’t make it easy."
The race was also notable for strong results by European men. Dewi Griffiths of Wales ran a fine debut with 2:09:49 for fifth. Finishing directly behind Griffiths was German Arne Gabius with 2:09:59 to win the national title while Poland's Henryk Szost was next across the line on the red carpet of the Festhalle with 2:10:09.
Running her second marathon, Cheruiyot dominated the race from the start, going through halfway in 1:10:07, more than two minutes ahead of her rivals before ultimately improving her personal best by 15 seconds.
For much of the race Cheruiyot was on target to break the course record of 2:21:01, reaching 30km in 1:40:14. But strong winds in the latter stages slowed her pace.
"Winning here has boosted my confidence," Cheruiyot said. "It was very windy. My body is small and running was hard. I had to knuckle down and thought I could run 2:20. But I am happy with my time. I’m still new to the marathon and can improve.”
Yebrgual Melese finished second in 2:24:30 ahead of her fellow Ethiopian Meskerem Assefa with 2:24:38. Both were able to make inroads on Cheruiyot’s lead in the closing stages. Further back, Sara Hall of the US was fifth with a personal best of 2:27:21.
While Gabius won the German men’s title as expected, there was a surprise outcome among the women as Katharina Heinig overtook last year’s national champion Fate Tola in the closing stages to finish eighth and best European woman in 2:29:29. Tola finished ninth in 2:30:12.
“The conditions were better than expected for the runners but still demanding enough for the runner," said race director Jo Schindler. "We were very anxious about the weather but in the end the running conditions were pretty good and that is reflected in many top quality performances among the results.”
14,513 runners from 108 countries took part in the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon.
Organisers for the IAAF
1. Shure Kitata Tola, ETH, 2:05:50
2. Kelkile Gezahegn, ETH, 2:06:56
3. Getu Feleke, ETH, 2:07:46
4. Martin Kosgey, KEN, 2:09:39
5. Dewi Griffiths, GBR, 2:09:49
6. Arne Gabius, GER, 2:09:59
7. Henryk Szost, POL, 2:10:09
8. Scott Smith, USA, 2:12:21
9. Scott Fauble, USA, 2:12:35
10. Mark Korir, KEN, 2:12:37
1. Vivian Cheruiyot, KEN, 2:23:35
2. Yebrgual Melese, ETH, 2:24:30
3. Meskerem Assefa, ETH, 2:24:38
4. Abebech Afework, ETH, 2:26:45
5. Sara Hall, USA, 2:27:21
6. Merima Mohammed, BRN, 2:27:49
7. Sylvia Medugu, KEN, 2:29:09
8. Katharina Heinig, GER, 2:29:29
9. Fate Tola, GER, 2:30:12
10. Anna Incerti, ITA, 2:32:11