25 November 2012 – Tariku Jufar of Ethiopia and China’s Jia Chaofeng were with winners of the Beijing Marathon on Sunday.
Jufar won the men’s contest in 2:09:39 while Jia Chaofeng clocked 2:27:40 to claim top honours in the women’s.
The 32nd edition of this IAAF Gold Label Road Race was staged in freezing conditions. The competition was held much later than the normal mid-October date and that really made life difficult for the runners. The weather forecast promised temperatures down to -3 degrees Celsius, and fortunately for the runners the mercury didn’t dip that low. Temperature was around 2 degrees C during the competition with most of the runners equipped with hats and gloves at the start.
Some 30,000 started the race at 8.30am and the script was the same on both the men’s and women’s sides. In the men’s race there were no big moves until the second half. Kenyan Emmanuel Samal lead the field through 22 kilometres in about 1:08; the group stayed together until the 24Km mark when countryman Eliud Kiptanui took the lead. The 2011 World Championships number six whose 2:05:39 was the fastest personal best in the field, it seemed only natural for him to break away from the others after 30 kilometres right next to the National Tennis Center.
But this wasn’t the last move of the race as two runners, Ethiopians Jufar and Solomon Molla were able to follow Kiptanui’s kick. The trio travelled together until 35 km which they passed in 1:52. Going slightly downhill at this stage, it was a perfect spot for the race’s decisive moment to transpire. The 28-year-old Jufar, who won the Houston Marathon in an impressive 2:06:51 personal best in January 2012, moved to the front and quickly opened a big gap to while the 25-year-old Molla, in his first Marathon this year, moved into second with Kiptanui now dropping back to third.
Just two kilometres after Jufar left the others standing, he could not even see the others when he looked back at the 37 kilometre mark. At the same time Kiptanui had reached Molla again and overtook him for second place. Things stayed this way until the finish line with no real sprint finish in the competition.
Jufar won in 2:09:39, his second big Marathon win this season and third sub-2:10 race in three tries in 2012 for a good first race career outing in China. 23-year-old Kiptanui was second in 2:10:15 while Molla’s first outing this season ended with a third place finish in 2:10:20, the second best result of his career behind the 2:08:46 personal best from 2008.
The best Chinese Marathon runner right now was the best home athlete in this race too. 27-year-old Yin Shujin ran his fifth Marathon this year and second in two months clocking 2:12:30 to finish sixth with a personal best.
In the women’s race the leading group was together until the 20 kilometre mark, which was passed 1:11:20, and the race still remained pretty much open after 35 kilometres where Sun Lamei and Jia Chaofeng were running side-by-side in the lead with Sun Weiwei following close behind. Jia made the change in pace quite close to the same place where Jifar took the lead and just like in the men’s race, she quickly left Sun behind and was really not threatened in the long final straight.
The 24-year-old Jia Chaofeng, from city of Lanzhou in Gansu province, has fast 5000/10,000m personal best from the 2009 National Games with 15:27.07 and 31:45.67 respectively, and it took her three years to mature into a good Marathon runner. In 2011 she finished fourth in the national championships with a 2:29:40 personal best, which remained her PB until Sunday. She also represented China in the 2011 World Championships Marathon where she was 16th, and also has a ninth place finishing from the 2010 Chicago Marathon to her credit. On Sunday she finished in 2:27:40 cutting exactly two minutes off her PB to win the first Beijing International Marathon title of her career.
21-year-old Army athlete Sun Lamei grabbed an impressive runner-up finish in her second career Marathon in a big personal best 2:27:55, more than 13 minutes faster than her debut in 2009 at the age of 18. Sun used to be a promising middle distance runner as a junior reaching times like 9:14.68 in 3000m in 2007 as a 16-year-old and 4:15.06 in the 1500m in 2009 at the age of 18.
27-year-old Sun Weiwei in third place is a very different runner in comparison to the pair that finished ahead of her. The Liaoning runner clocked her personal best 2:25:15 for fifth place in Beijing 2002 at the age of 17 in her Marathon debut. Despite not reaching her PB after that first race, Sun has gone on to win in Beijing in 2006 and has represented China twice at World Championships - in Osaka 2007 (21st) and Berlin 2009 (12th). Her finishing time 2:28:03 is a season’s best and the fourth best clocking of her career.
China grabbed the first nine places in the women’s competition and home runners have now won 21 in a row in this race beginning in 1992.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF