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Lisbon, PortugalRunning in very warm conditions, Martin Lel and Priscah Jeptoo won today’s Rock 'N' Roll Portugal Half Marathon in Lisbon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Lel, a former World Half Marathon Champion before making his name over the full Marathon distance, clocked 1:01:28 while his Kenyan compatriot, Olympic Marathon silver medallist Jeptoo, clocked 1:10:32.
The temperature was 19 C. at 09:00 and rose to 26 C. by noon, seriously impacting the race tempo.
In the first half of the men’s race (29:13 at 10 km), only the first eight athletes prevailed in the lead group with major changes produced after 15 kilometres, where six were running together, crossing the marker in 43:54. Lel, a three-time winner at the London Marathon, made his decisive break at 20 kilometres, taking the lead and adding to it over the closing kilometre.
In the final kilometre, despite the slowest split (3:03) he managed to cross the line ten seconds ahead of Albert Matebor (15th, 2012 Paris Marathon), who finished with a 1:01:39 personal best.
Lel was a bit disappointed after the race, he said, "Because of the hot weather."
"This course is marvelous, totally flat, we can achieve great performances here, but this wasn’t that day. I thought the other runners made it harder for me, but all of them didn’t understand the weather very well."
Another Kenyan, Titus Masai (5th in 2012 Lisbon Half Marathon last spring, 3rd is Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, finished third in 1:01:49.
A surprising Kenyan, Cybrian Kotut, was fourth in 1:02:25 while Tariku Bekele, the 2012 10,000m Olympic bronze medallist, disappointed the crowd with a sixth place showing in his debut over the distance, as did former winner Silas Sang who was a distant seventh.
The first Portuguese, for the third time in a row, was Hermano Ferreira (9th, 1.04.52).
Jeptoo out-battles Muriuki
The first half of the women’s race featured a great fight between Kenyans Jeptoo and Margaret Muriuki, third in Lisbon half marathon last spring (1:09:21), and 2004 Olympic Marathon champion Mizuki Noguchi of Japan. Then Jeptoo, who said she had a significant decrease in training volume since the Olympic Marathon in early August, moved to the front to finish alone in 1:10:32, only six seconds behind her personal best (1:10:26).
"I felt the hot weather, and ran cautiously, because of a lack of training sessions. I never expected to win today, but this flat course is marvelous and I could run faster than I thought I might."
Behind her across the line was Muriuki, who only had to control the progressive pace of Portuguese Ana Dulce Felix, who crossed the finish line third with 1:12:12, far from her personal best (1:08:33). Noguchi was fourth ahead of another Portuguese, Leonor Carneiro, who was third in the Oporto Half Marathon (1:13:33), a few weeks ago, now with a time of 1:13:49.
In all more than 4900 runners competed in the Half Marathon and more than 15,000 in the fun run, and joined together in the finishing area for a majestic concert by the iconic Portuguese Rock’n’Roll band, Xutos e Pontapés.
António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF
Leading Results - MEN - 1. Martin Lel KEN 1.01.28 2. Albert Matebor KEN 1.01.38 3. Titus Masai KEN 1.01.49 4. Cybrian Kotut KEN 1.02.25 5. Cuthbert Nyasango ZIM 1.02.26 6. Tariku Bekele ETI 1.02.59 7. Silas Sang KEN 1.04.21 8. Jacob Kintra ETH 1.04.30
WOMEN - 1. Priscah Jeptoo KEN 1.10.32 2. Margaret Muriuki KEN 1.11.28 3. Ana Dulce Felix POR 1.12.12 4. Mizuki Noguchi JPN 1.12.20 5. Leonor Carneiro POR 1.13.49 6. Sara Moreira POR 1.15.43 7. Sandra Teixeira POR 1.19.18 8. Anália Rosa POR 1.19.25