Sarah Chepchirchir of Kenya broke the course record at the Rock 'n' Roll Lisbon Marathon EDP to highlight a busy day of IAAF Gold Label Road Race action in the Portuguese capital on Sunday (2).
The 30-year-old clocked 2:24:12 to eclipse the previous course standard by nearly a minute while shattering her own lifetime best by nearly six.
In the morning's other three races, also IAAF Gold Label events, Kenyan Alfred Kering won the men's marathon in 2:10:27, while Nguse Amlosom of Eritrea and Genet Yalew of Ethiopia took the half marathon titles, clocking 1:02:39 and 1:10:25 respectively.
Chepchirchir surprises even herself
The women’s race began with a balanced pace, with a group of five still in contention at the midway point, reached in 1:12:23. Ethiopian Shanko Genemo, who was gunning for her third marathon triumph of 2016, was forced to drop out just beyond the half, leaving four Kenyans to battle for the win: Chepchirchir, Brigid Kosgei, Esther Ndiema and Rose Chepchumba.
Midway through the race’s second half, Chepchirchir and Kosgei dropped the other pair with Chepchirchir making her decisive break in the closing kilometres to easily take down the previous course record of 2:25:09.
“I wasn’t expecting that, neither the victory nor the performance,” said Chepchirchir, whose previous best was 2:30:08 set in Hamburg in April. “I’m very, very happy with that.”
Behind her, Kosgei notched a big personal best as well, clocking 2:24:45 for second place, finishing inside the previous course record. Her performance was also a big improvement on her previous lifetime best of 2:27:45 set when winning April’s Milan Marathon. Ndiema was a distant third in 2:31:41.
In relative terms, the men’s race wasn’t nearly as fast.
After an opening half of 1:04:07, Alfred Kering pulled away in the latter stages to win comfortably in 2:10:27, well ahead of Reuben Kerio, who clocked 2:11:09.
Seboka Nigusse closed well to clock 2:11:42 and dash the hopes for a Kenyan double podium sweep.
Mixed results for defending champions
In the half marathon, Nguse Amlosom of Eritrea encountered little difficulty in retaining his title.
The Eritrean, who was ninth in the Olympic 10,000m in August, beat the hot and sunny conditions along with the rest of the field in 1:02:39, one second slower than his winning time one year ago.
“I’m happy with another win, but the other runners didn’t race fast enough to challenge us for a quick finish,” Amlosom said. “For that I’m not satisfied. But I’m hoping to do better in another opportunity.”
Amlosom was followed by Kenyans Remmy Ndiwa and Wilfred Kimeli Kimitei who clocked 1:02:48 and 1:02:49 respectively. Eritreans Amanuel Mesel and Dawit Weldeslasie were further back, in fourth and fifth.
In the women’s race, a misunderstanding at the start left Kenyans Margaret Agai and defending champion Beatrice Mutai stranded, with both finally starting almost half a minute after the leading runners.
Recovering kilometre by kilometre, the pair made a big effort to narrow the deficit, but they couldn’t catch Ethiopian Genet Yalew who fought off Agai’s final assault to win in 1:10:25.
Agai was three seconds further back, followed by Kenyan Valary Jemeli Aiyabei, who clocked 1:10:44 for third. Mutai meanwhile had to settle for fourth, nearly two minutes in arrears.
Magdalene Masai (1:12:57), the third place finisher at this year's Rome-Ostia Half Marathon, finished in fifth, ahead of Portugal’s Ana Dulce Felix, the European 10,000m silver medallist.
António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF
1 Nguse Amlosom (ERI) 1:02:39
2 Remmy Limo Ndiwa (KEN) 1:02:48
3 Wilfred Kimeli Kimitei (KEN) 1:02:49
4 Amanuel Mesel (ERI) 1:02:56
5 Dawit Weldeslasie (ERI) 1:03:21
6 John Kipkoech (KEN) 1.04:51
7 Samuel Barata (POR) 1:05:16
8 Geofrey Kusuro (UGA) 1:05:16
1 Alfred Kering (KEN) 2:10:27
2 Reuben Kerio (KEN) 2:11:09
3 Seboka Nigusse (ETH) 2:11:42
4 Silas Sang (KEN) 2:14:47
5 Patrick Cheruiyot (KEN) 2:16:51
1 Genet Yalew (ETH) 1:10:25
2 Margaret Agai (KEN) 1:10:28
3 Valary Jemeli Aiyabei (KEN) 1:10:44
4 Beatrice Mutai (KEN) 1:12:33
5 Magdalene Masai (KEN) 1:12:57
6 Ana Dulce Félix (POR) 1:16:19
7 Doroteia Peixoto (POR) 1:16:20
8 Lucy Kabuu Wangui (KEN) 1:16:30
1 Sarah Chepchirchir (KEN) 2:24:13
2 Brigid Jepcheschir Kosgei (KEN) 2:24:45
3 Esther Ndiema (KEN) 2:31:41
4 Rose Chepchumba (KEN) 2:33:01
5 Rosa Madureira (POR) 2:47:54