Kenyan Mark Korir and Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia claimed convincing victories at the 35th Mainova Frankfurt Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday (30).
In the men's race, Korir won a three-way battle in 2:06:48, more than 30 seconds clear of compatriots Martin Kosgei and Cyprian Kotut. In the women's contest, Daska collected her second Frankfurt victory in 2:25:27, dramatically fending off a late-race challenge by Germany's Fate Tola.
Korir's mid-race move the key
A lead group of eight was guided by three pacemakers through the first half in 1:02:58, according to the pre-race plan. In the 27th kilometre, Ethiopia’s Tadesse Tola, the fastest in field with a PB of 2:04:49, was the first to drift back, leaving Korir, Kotut, Kosgei, Birhanu Achamie of Ethiopia and pacemaker Vincent Rono at the front at 30 kilometres, reached in 1:30:09. Korir upped the tempo, dropping Achamie and the pacesetter.
Korir, the 2015 Paris Marathon winner, began his decisive attack with five kilometres remaining, and was never significantly threatened en route to the race's dazzling indoor finish area in Frankfurt's Festhalle.
"When the pace dropped after 35km I put the pressure on – and won," said Korir, whose 2:06:48 performance was the year's eighth fastest. "After having to drop out in the Paris Marathon this spring I was very disappointed. I wanted to redeem myself and I really enjoyed this race."
Kosgei was pleased with his 2:07:22 runner-up finish, a substantial improvement over his previous best of 2:09:50 set in Hannover in 2015.
"I knew from my training that I was in better form than before," Kosgei said. "But it was a surprise to achieve second place."
Kotut, the current Paris Marathon champion, suffered a hamstring injury late in the race which ultimately left him out of contention.
"Everything was okay until 35km when I got the injury," said Kotut, the younger brother of marathon great Martin Lel. "Nonetheless I am happy to have run 2:07 despite the problem."
Further back Bobby Curtis of the US was fourth in 2:11:20, equalling his lifetime best, with Tola fifth in 2:11:52.
Daska holds on, Kebede drops out
In the women's race, as expected the Ethiopian pair of Mamitu Daska and Sutume Asefa Kebede established an early lead. Their early tempo suggested a possible attack on the course record of 2:21:01, set in 2012 by fellow Ethiopian Meselech Melkamu.
Soon after they passed the halfway point in a promising 1:10:40, Daska pulled ahead alone. However, she was hit with stomach problems at about the 25-kilometre mark, forcing her to briefly stop, but still holding a safe lead. That changed after 30 kilometres (1:57:50), when Tola, running her first marathon since obtaining German citizenship, began working her way towards the front. By 37 kilometres she moved into second just as Kebede dropped out.
Daska was clearly struggling from the 35th kilometre, where she had an advantage of 2:40. "It was my aim to win the race, but it was getting really tough because of the problems," she said.
Slowing dramatically, her lead was cut to 1:24 five kilometres later. Continuing to fade even as Tola pressed on, Daska still held on for the win, holding off the challenger by 15 seconds. Had the race been some 300 metres longer, the finishing order would have been reversed.
"I could have run 15 seconds faster, but I did not see Mamitu Daska early enough," said Tola, who clocked 2:25:42. Nonetheless, she wasn't disappointed. "It was a great race for me, I am really happy.“
Organiser for the IAAF
1 Mark Korir (KEN) 2:06:48
2 Martin Kosgei (KEN) 2:07:22
3 Cyprian Kotut (KEN) 2:07:28
4 Bobby Curtis (USA) 2:11:20
5 Tadesse Tola (ETH) 2:11:52
6 Birhanu Achamie (ETH) 2:12:19
7 Weldu Gebretsadik (NOR) 2:12:20
8 Koen Naert (BEL) 2:12:27
9 Moses Masai (KEN) 2:13:23
10 Rene Cuneaz (ITA) 2:15:32
1 Mamitu Daska (ETH) 2:25:27
2 Fate Tola (GER) 2:25:42
3 Sarah Jebet (KEN) 2:27:07
4 Lindsay Flanagan (USA) 2:29:28
5 Charlotte Purdue (GBR) 2:30:04
6 Martina Strähl (SUI) 2:30:58
7 Helen Tola (ETH) 2:31:27
8 Mona Stockhecke (GER) 2:31:30
9 Tracy Barlow (GBR) 2:32:05
10 Milda Vilcinskaite (LTU) 2:34:48