Ethiopia’s Worknesh Edesa beat the hot weather and a loaded field to break the women’s course record at the Bank of Lanzhou Cup Lanzhou International Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Sunday (2).
The top four finishers in the women’s race all finished inside the previous course record of 2:31:22 set by Kenya’s Nguriatukei Rael Kiyara in 2015. The 26-year-old Edesa, whose 2:21:05 PB from Dubai earlier this year made her the fastest entrant for Lanzhou, lived up to expectations as she broke the tape in style in 2:30:22.
The race started under cloudy weather conditions but the sun came out about an hour after the gun and the temperature rose rapidly. A group of eight runners led the race to 15km in 53:31, 25km in 1:29:08 and 30km in 1:47:29.
After 35km, the pack was soon whittled down to just four runners: Edesa, Gutemi Shone, Sifan Melaku and Fantu Jimma. Edesa waited for another four kilometres before launching her powerful surge to pull away from the others.
Although the temperature reached as high as 26C, the in-form Ethiopian kept widening the gap and went on to win in 2:30:22. It was Edesa’s first marathon victory since winning the 2016 Xiamen Marathon in 2:24:04.
Edesa’s compatriot Shone, winner of this year’s Seville Marathon with a PB of 2:23:32, finished second in 2:30:40, while the 31-year-old Jimma, winner of this year’s Wuhan Marathon, lagged nine seconds further behind to complete the Ethiopian podium sweep.
Kenya’s Justus Kimutai upset a strong Ethiopian contingent to win the men’s race in 2:11:47.
Ethiopian runners filled the next six positions with Gizachew Hailu finishing second in 2:12:05 and Afewerk Mesfin third in 2:14:10.
The race saw a crowded leading group in the opening five kilometres and before they went through the 10km water station China’s Guan Yousheng was the first to drop back.
Ethiopia’s Bira Seboka, a 24-year-old with a PB of 2:08:51, made his bold early charge after reaching 20km in 1:03:01. Seboka built an advantage of some 15 seconds at 25km but was later swallowed by the chasers near 28km.
A new leading pack of seven runners paced the race for another five kilometres before the 26-year-old Kimutai, who was running for the first time on the Chinese soil, started his charge.
This time only Hailu and Mesfin managed to keep up with Kimutai’s pace. But the 26-year-old Mesfin, who set a course record of 2:09:49 in Chongqing in 2017 and improved his career best to 2:09:08 in Xiamen five months ago, had to drop behind near the 35km tables.
Kimutai then kept pressing ahead and finally notched the sole lead after 38km. When he reached 40km in 2:05:17, the Kenyan was 11 seconds ahead of the 21-year-old Hailu.
Kimutai’s winning time of 2:11:47 was more than one-and-a-half minutes shy of the 2:10:10 course record set by Ethiopian Abayneh Ayele in 2015.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF