The fourth Brighton Marathon – an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race – celebrated two course records today (14) as Dominic Kangor and Eunice Kales made it a double triumph for Kenya on a crisp, overcast morning in the south coast resort.
Kangor crossed the line in 2:10:46, as the top three finishers ran well inside the old record from last year of 2:12:03 set by fellow Kenyan Peter Some.
It represented an improvement of 2:29 for the winner over his previous career best from Kenya last year. Overwhelmed by his performance, all Kangor could manage was amazement at the number of spectators. “It was like being at home,” said the winner.
For the women, compatriot Eunice Kales enjoyed a storming debut, recording 2:28:50 – more than a minute faster than the previous course record of 2:29:37 set by Belarus’s Sviatlana Kouhan in 2012.
“I’m very surprised to win,” confessed Kales. “I only expected to run around 2:35, but I had a very good pacemaker.
“I only decided to run the Marathon after competing in the Bristol Half Marathon (September). At 24 miles I knew I was going to win.”
Second to Kales, former champion Alyson Dixon of Britain smashed her personal best to clock 2:31:10, but missed out by an agonising 10 seconds on the British Athletics ‘A’ standard qualification time for the IAAF World Championships in Moscow this summer.
“I’m chuffed to bits with the time,” said Dixon. “70 per cent elated, but 30 per cent gutted because of missing out on qualification.
“At 21 miles I was well on course to qualify for Moscow, but at 22 miles I was slightly down and that was when Eunice got away.”
More than two minutes behind the Briton was another Kenyan, Frashiah Waithaka, who improved her PB by exactly one minute with 2:33:31.
The men’s race saw a Kenyan clean sweep as Bernard Rotich finished just six seconds down on the winner with Robert Mwangi a further 35 seconds adrift in third.
The race got under way at 9am local time under overcast skies and temperatures at a cool 10°C. With an opening mile of five minutes, the field was already on target for a course record, but could they keep it going?
By mile five, reached in 24:44, the leading group of six Kenyans and two Ethiopians headed by Mwangi were ticking the miles off, still on course record pace with an expected arrival time in the mid-2:10s.
The half-way mark was reached in 65:08 with Ethiopian Haile Gelu now spearheading the group. Gelu was eventually to finish sixth in a disappointing 2:16:55.
The women went through half way in 74:57, led by Dixon forcing the pace with Kales and Waithaka in close attendance.
At this stage Uganda’s former World Steeplechase champion Docus Inzikuru had become detached from the leaders and her quest to break the national record (2:40:31) on her debut was starting to look in doubt.
At the 40km point, Kangor and Rotich were battling it out elbow-to-elbow with Mwangi trying to hold off an attack from fellow Kenyan Elijah Tirop.
By the time the women’s leaders reached the same point, Kales had built up a big lead over Dixon with Waithaka further adrift.
Over the final kilometre Kangor made his effort and managed to grab a slender advantage of a few metres, which he held to the finish.
Kales, meanwhile, was extending her lead with every stride and crossed the line with more than two minutes to spare over Dixon, becoming the first Kenyan woman to win in Brighton.
Michael Butcher (organisers) for the IAAF