Netsanet Gudeta of Ethiopia and Stephen Kiprop of Kenya took decisive victories at the 9th Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, in this eastern Czech city on Saturday (23).
Gudeta, the world half marathon champion, dominated from the outset en route to her 1:07:30 triumph while Kiprop broke from a competitive men's contest in the latter stages to win in 1:00:15, knocking two seconds from the previous event record set by Geoffrey Ronoh in 2014.
In her first appearance over the distance since breaking the world record for a women's only race with her 1:06:11 run at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships Valencia 2018, Gudeta, was on her own soon after the gun sounded, reaching five kilometres in 15:55, 18 seconds clear of her nearest challenger, compatriot Aselefech Mergia. From there she only added to her lead, passing 10 kilometres in 31:57 and 15 kilometres in 47:53, by then 1:43 clear of Mergia.
"I feel really great about today’s race," said the 27-year-old Gudeta, whose winning time was the third fastest of her career. "I launched my attack early on to ensure I secured first place and I’m delighted that I managed to keep it up right until the finish line."
Mergia, meanwhile, had Trihas Gebre of Spain for company for much of the race before pulling away in the latter stages to finish second in 1:09:45, six seconds ahead Gebre. She in turn held off the quick-closing Clemence Calvin of France, who made up a seven-second deficit over the final six kilometres to reach the line in 1:09:52, just one second behind Gebre.
Conversely, the men's race was one of patience, with eight men still in contention at the 15-kilometre point, reached in 43:21. Kiprop proved the strongest, pulling away late in the race to build a insurmountable lead en route to his 1:00:15 course record.
"I had my sights set on breaking the event record and I’m delighted that my plan worked out," said Kiprop, who at 19 is beginning to make waves over the distance. He won the Venloop in Venlo, Netherlands, on 25 March, clocking 59:44.
"The wind wasn’t half as bad as it seemed at the start, though if it hadn’t been there at all, I could easily have run 30 seconds faster. Even so, I really enjoyed the race."
Ethiopian Jemal Yimer was a distant second in 1:00:37, 20 seconds clear of Kenyan Abel Kipchumba who rounded out the podium. Evans Cheruiyot was fourth in 1:01:00 with Justus Kipkosge Kangogo further back, clocking 1:01:34 for fifth.
Bob Ramsak for IAAF
1 Stephen Kiprop (KEN) 1:00:15
2 Jemal Yimer (ETH) 1:00:37
3 Abel Kipchumba (KEN) 1:00:57
4 Evans Cheruiyot (KEN) 1:01:00
5 Justus Kipkogei Kangogo (KEN) 1:01:34
6 Festus Talam (KEN) 1:01:35
7 Meshack Kiprop Koech (KEN) 1:01:37
1 Netsanet Gudeta (ETH) 1:07:30
2 Aselefech Mergia (ETH) 1:09:45
3 Trihas Gebre (ESP) 1:09:51
4 Clemence Calvin (FRA) 1:09:52
5 Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová (CZE) 1:11:10
6 Lilia Fisikovici (MDA) 1:11:43
7 Antonina Kwambai (KEN) 1:11:52