Ethiopia’s Amane Gobena couldn’t capture the course record at the 37th Vodafone Istanbul Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, but she did fulfil her role as favourite and successfully defended her title on Sunday (15).
She arrived in the Turkish city with the specific aim of chasing the course record of 2:27:25, set back in 2010 by her compatriot Ashu Kasim Rabu, but had to settle for the win in 2:31:58, more than three minutes adrift of her winning time 12 months ago.
Gobena had a lead of 25 seconds over her nearest rival at 5km, and one minute at 10km. Her lead just kept stretching for the rest of the race and she crossed the line with an advantage of almost nine minutes.
Kenya's Gladys Jepkemoi Chemweno was a distant second, crossing the line in 2:40:53, with Turkey’s Meryam Erdogan third in 2:46:42.
The men’s race was won by Elias Chelimo in 2:11:17, just 35 seconds shy of the course record set by Vincent Kiplagat in 2010.
The first 10km was covered in a swift 28:32 as Chelimo struggled to hold on, but the pace soon settled as he and four other athletes – Evans Kiplagat, Debebe Tolossa, Chakir Boujattaoui and Silas Limo – went through 20km in 1:01:51 and half way in 1:04:00.
By 35km, just Chelimo, Kiplagat and Limo remained at the front, but Chelimo then increased the pace and opened up a gap of 90 seconds over his fellow Kenyans during the course of the next five kilometres.
Having passed 40km in 2:03:48, the crowd were beginning to anticipate a course record, but after a final two kilometres which he described as “killer”, Chelimo had to settle for victory in 2:11:17.
“I think I did the best I could today but it was sometimes hard to concentrate (being out on his own alone)," said the 31-year-old Chelimo, who finished his 28th marathon in a long career over the distance which stretches back to 2004. "If I come back next year, I hope to do better.”
The Istanbul race was his third triumph, but his first for six years, following victories at the 2007 Rome Marathon and the 2009 Sao Paulo Marathon.
Kiplagat was second again, after also finishing as the runner up two years ago, with this year’s Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon winner in April crossing the line in 2:12:51.
Limo completed an all-Kenyan men’s podium when he finished third in 2:14:02.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF