Hayle Lemi Berhanu was the winner of the 2015 Orlen Warsaw Marathon, the 21-year old rising star from Ethiopia triumphing at the IAAF Silver Label Road Race in 2:07:57 to take his career record to three wins from three marathons on Sunday (26).
In a close race, in which the top six men finished within 32 seconds,
Kenya’s Robert Chemosin was the runner-up on his debut over the classic distance in 2:08:05. The accomplished half-marathon specialist from Kenya finished just ahead of the men with the fastest career best in the field, Ethiopia’s Markos Geneti taking third in 2:08:11.
The race started at 9:30am with a temperature of 14 degrees Celsius and a light drizzle. The top competitors appeared to find these conditions to their liking, as they started off at a brisk pace.
The leading group, consisting of more than a dozen runners, passed the 5 km point in 15:02, and the 10 km in exactly 30:00. The group contained all the main favourites including: Lemi Berhanu, Geneti and Debebe Tolossa, as well as the Kenyan trio of Elijah Kemboi, Charles Cheruiyot and Samuel Mwaniki.
The only runner from outside Africa among the leaders was the Polish record holder Henryk Szost.
As the rain stopped approximately half an hour into the race, the runners continued at only a slightly slower pace, passing the halfway point in 1:03:31.
The pack was still 12 strong as they reached 30km in 1:30:47.
Over the next couple of kilometres, the leading group was reduced to the seven men who would fight almost all the way to the end.
Lemi Berhanu, Geneti, Tolossa, Kemboi, Mwaniki, Kenya’s Richard Sigei and Robert Chemosin and Amanuel Mesel, of Eritrea, went through 35km in 1:46:09, while home favourite Szost was now 38 seconds behind in ninth place.
Of the leading seven, six were still together as late as the 40 km point, with only Tolossa getting dropped.
It was only just over a kilometre from the finish line that the decisive move took place. Lemi Berhanu broke away from his rivals with relative ease before breaking the tape in 2:07:57.
Behind the top trio, the next three men were not far behind: Mesel in fourth with 2:08:18, Sigei in fifth in 2:08:28 and Kemboi sixth with 2:08:29.
Tolossa hung on for seventh place in 2:09:52, followed by Abdida Sori Bedada of Ethiopia with 2:10:04 while Szost reached the line in 2:10:11 and so the 33-year old successfully defended the Polish national title he won in the same race last year.
Sado cracks the whip from 37km
There was also an Ethiopian victory in the women’s race as Fatuma Sado won in 2:26:25, a course record by nearly two minutes, with Kenya’s Mercy Kibarus second 41 seconds behind.
In the women’s race, the leading pack was down to five by 10 km point, which was reached in 35:05. The leaders included four Ethiopians: Sado, Bizuayehu Ehitu, Seada Kedir and Chaltu Waka, plus a sole Kenyan, Kibarus.
The group continued to stay together until the halfway point, reached in 1:14:00.
As the leaders got faster, Kedir was the first of the five to be dropped. The remaining four then reached 25 km in 1:27:26 after a 17:17 five-kilometre segment.
With the next split even faster at 17:10, only two women were left at the front: Sado and Kibarus.
The two leaders were still together at 35km, with Waka now over a minute behind, but five kilometres from the finish, Sado started to run away from her rival and by 40km, the Ethiopian had opened up a gap of 17 seconds.
Sado’s lead continued to grow and although she missed her personal best by 46 seconds, her time, was a new course record and Polish all-comers mark.
Kibarus was second in 2:27:06 before a gap back to third place, taken by Waka in 2:29:30.
In the 10km race held in conjunction with the marathon, Kenya’s Hillary Kimaiyo Maiyo was the winner with 28:45. The women’s event was dominated by Polish runners, the 23-year old Dominika Napieraj making a major breakthrough to win in 32:46, a mere two seconds ahead of Agnieszka Mierzejewska.
Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF