Battling high winds, Kenyan Erick Kiptanui and Etagegn Woldu of Ethiopia prevailed in their respective races at the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Sunday (11).
Despite the wind and rain, the men's race still witnessed deep results with the first 12 athletes finishing within 61 minutes.
From the start to the first turn, a stretch of about seven kilometres, the runners forged on with a tailwind, but over the next ten they faced a headwind, with the final four again run with the wind. Until that second turn point, more than 15 runners remained in the lead group. Only after the 17th kilometre did the race begin to change.
That was the moment that Kiptanui upped the tempo to built a small lead. The challengers tried to make up ground at different points in the waning stages, but they couldn't catch Kiptanui who closed with a 2:47 final kilometre en route to 1:00:05 victory in his debut over the distance.
"I’m really happy with this result," said the unheralded Kiptanui, whose biggest career win came at the San Silverstre 10km in Madrid last New Year's Eve.
"I must thank the organisation for inviting me and trusting that I can run at this level. I think I could have achieved a better result if there were no strong wind.
"In future races I believe I can run under one hour, and of course, if I return to Lisbon I’m sure I will run faster than today, because this is a great course."
Behind him, Eritrean Yohanes Gebregergish was next in 1:00:16, a personal best, for second. Kenyan Morris Gachaga was third in 1:00:17.
Nicholas Kosimbei, also making his debut, was fourth in 1:00:21, ahead of the experienced Atsedu Tsegay, a late hour entrant, who clocked 1:00:28, and world record-holder Zersenay Tadese, who was sixth with 1:00:29, his fastest time for three years.
In the women's event, which started 15 minutes before the men's, also had seven women in contention through the first 17 kilometres in the front. Woldu then took the lead, upped the tempo and ran to a 1:11:27 win, improving her personal best by three minutes.
"I expected to race under 68 minutes, but the strong wind didn’t allow it," the 21-year-old said. "I’m happy for this win and I hope run faster in my next race."
Belaynesh Oljira followed in 1:11:29 with Helen Bekele Tola, the fourth place finisher at September's Berlin Marathon, third in 1:11:33 to round out the podium for Ethiopia.
Mimi Belete of Bahrain was fourth in 1:11:38 with Kenyan Magdalyne Masai fifth in 1:11:49 to repeat her position from last year.
The weather conditions forced organisers to change the course for the mass race from the south to the north bank of the Tagus river to avoid crossing the 25 of April Bridge, an iconic feature of the race.
António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF
1 Erick Kiptanui (KEN) 1:00:05
2 Yohanes Gebregergish (ERI) 1:00:16
3 Morris Munene Gachaga (KEN) 1:00:17
4 Nicholas Kosimbei (KEN) 1:00:21
5 Atsedu Tsegay (ETH) 1:00:28
6 Zersenay Tadese (ERI) 1:00:29
7 Alexander Mutiso (KEN) 1:00:31
8 James Wangari (KEN) 1:00:49
9 Noah Kipkemboi (KEN) 1:00:52
10 Birhan Nebebew (ETH) 1:00:53
11 Kipkemoi Kiprono (KEN) 1:00:56
12 Edwin Kibet Koech (KEN) 1:00:57
1 Etagegn Woldu (ETH) 1:11:27
2 Belaynesh Oljira (ETH) 1:11:29
3 Helen Bekele Tola (ETH) 1:11:33
4 Mimi Belete (BRN) 1:11:38
5 Magdalyne Masai (KEN) 1:11:49
6 Sofyia Shemsu (ETH) 1:11:50
7 Hiwot Ayalew (ETH) 1:11:56
8 Paskalia Chepkorir Kipkoech (KEN) 1:13:24
9 Kellys Arias (COL) 1:15:27
10 Filomena Costa (POR) 1:16:43