Kenya’s Ezekiel Kiptoo Chebii chose the Rock’n’Roll Madrid Marathon to make his debut over the classic distance and the 23-year-old’s decision proved to be a right one as he recorded the quickest ever time in the Spanish capital, winning the IAAF Silver Label Road Race in 2:09.15 on Sunday (27).
On the women’s side the win went for Ethiopia’s Alem Frike who came just 7 seconds outside the course record thanks to a 2:32:11 clocking, still a season’s best for her.
The course record came partly thanks to the ability of the race organisers to attract the presence of the 23-year-old talent, who can boast of an impressive 59:05 lifetime best for the half marathon.
In addition, a tough incline in the closing stages of the race has been replaced this year by a smoother section and even the weather helped to bring about fast performance as it was an almost windless day and the temperature didn’t rise above the 12ºC at any moment.
However, the race didn’t start on record pace. Eritrea’s Dawit Weldeselasie acted as the early pacemaker but some five kilometres into the race, only Kenya’s Lawrence Kimaiyo remained running at his shoulder while the eventual winner Kiptoo Chebii was some metres behind alongside the rest of the African contenders.
Shortly before the 10km point, Kiptoo Chebii caught the leading duo and the triumvirate found a quite consistent 3:00-per-kilometre pace to go through halfway in 1:04:08, just ahead of the scheduled 1:04:30.
It was then that a course record began to be realistic with Kenya’s Daniel Kiprop Limo and Ethiopia’s Samuel Gatawech also going through halfway in under 1:05.
Once Weldeselasie dropped out from the race just after the halfway point, Kimaiyo and Kiptoo Chebii agreed to take turns in front to keep the rhythm alive and heir tactic paid off as the Kenyan pair passed the 30km point in 1:31:12.
The decisive movement came some five kilometres left when Kimaiyo couldn’t live with Chebii’s pace and the latter began to open a sizable margin.
At 40km, they were widely separated by 35 seconds and Kiptoo Chebii kept his momentum to the line, almost doubling his advantage. He took a massive 1:22 improvement from the previous course record set last year and also lowered the Madrid all-comers best that had be held by Italy’s Stefano Baldini at 2:09:59 from the 2001 Millennium Marathon.
Kimaiyo finished second in 2:10:17 while made it an all-Kenyan men’s podium with third place in 2:12:14.
“It has been fantastic, a win on my debut, a course record, I can’t ask for more” commented an elated Kiptoo Chebii once recovered from his huge effort.
“I didn’t know the distance nor the circuit so I preferred to run conservatively for the first half and listen the piece of advice from the organiser on when I had to push hard and when I must run slower. I’m also very grateful to the masses of people who have supported me during the whole event”.
In the women’s race, Ethiopia’s Alem Frike was just seven seconds outside the course record after crossing the line in 2:32:11.
Morocco’s Malika Asahssah did the pace making duties until 15km, and was followed by Fikre and her compatriot Hayimot Alemayehu Shewe plus Kenya’s Sara Jebet. The trio clocked 1:14:46 at the halfway point.
Around 26 kilometres, Jebet tried to break away from the others and she even built a short lead over Fikre but soon the unexperienced Kenyan, who was making her marathon debut, finally began to falter and was overtaken by the 25-year-old Ethiopian.
Fikre then eased away from Jebet and finished over a minute ahead of her Kenyan rival.
Arturo Casado (31:02) and Chema Martínez (1:07:59) took the honours in the 10km and half marathon events respectively
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF