A heavy storm the day before Lisbon hosted the Rock’n’Roll Marathon of Lisbon EDP and the Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon Vodafone RTP dampened expectations at the IAAF Gold Label Road Races on Sunday (18) but it wasn’t enough to stop Purity Rionoripo from setting a marathon course record.
The strong winds and rain down the Portuguese coast 24 hours prior had left a lot of debris and water on the roads. The athletes also had to deal with further wind and rain during the race itself, leading to some drop-outs.
One year on from winning the half marathon in Lisbon, Rionoripo stepped up in distance to make her marathon debut.
The Kenyan ran alongside compatriot Margaret Agai, winner of the 2013 Daegu marathon in a 2:23:28 PB, during the early stages, passing 10km in 33:53. But Rionoripo made a break before the half way mark, reaching 13.1 miles in 1:11:59 with a 32-second lead.
By 30km, reached in 1:40:59, Rionoripo’s lead had increased to nearly four minutes and victory looked certain. So too did the course record as she was well on pace to better the 2:26:47 set last year by Visiline Jepkesho.
She maintained her lead to the end, crossing the line in 2:25:09 to smash the course record. Agai finished more than four minutes later in a season’s best of 2:29:12. Ethiopia’s Beshadu Bekele was a distant third in 2:42:16.
“I really enjoined winning the half marathon here last year, so I decided to race the full marathon here,” said Rionoripo, the 2009 world youth 3000m champion. “The course is fast, but the wind and the rain didn’t help us.”
The half marathon was a lot closer and was only decided in the closing stages.
Beatrice Mutai, Rebecca Kangogo Chesir, Angela Tanui, Priscah Cherono, Wude Ayalew and Feyse Tadese formed the lead group and they remained together beyond the half-way mark.
But with just a few kilometres remaining, only three of those – Mutai, Ayalew and Kangogo – were left to battle it out for the podium spots.
Mutai proved to be the strongest, winning in 1:09:50 to become the 11th Kenyan woman in the past 14 years to win the half marathon in Lisbon.
Ayalew, the 2009 world 10,000m bronze medallist, followed her across the line just three seconds later while Chesir was third in 1:10:00.
Kipsang maintains Kenyan dominance
Since the marathon became part of the Rock’n’Roll Lisbon racing weekend two years ago, the men’s and women’s races have been won by Kenyans. With compatriot Rionoripo winning the women’s race, Asbel Kipsang made it another Kenyan double this year.
Pace makers Michael Tiony and Lawrence Cherono led the men’s marathon field in the first half, passing half way in 1:04:41 with Samuel Theuri, Kipsang, Daniel Kiprop Limo and Duncan Mayo – in that order – all close behind in the lead pack.
After 30km, only Theuri and Kipsang were left at the front. They remained together for several kilometres before Kipsang forged ahead, eventually winning by 30 seconds in 2:09:26.
Kipsang, competing in his third marathon following victories in his first two, took 29 seconds off the PB he set on his debut at the distance in Florence last year.
Theuri, meanwhile, was exactly a minute outside the PB he set earlier this year when finishing second in Marrakech. Limo finished third in 2:12:14 and Mayo was fourth in 2:13:03 as Kenyans filled the top four spots.
“Victory was a great surprise, especially with a personal best,” said Kipsang. “This was a good course, but we faced bad conditions, with rain and wind part of the time. This result will help me focus on my other goals, including taking a place on the Olympic marathon team next year.”
The only non-Kenyan winner in Lisbon came in the men’s half marathon, which was also the most competitive race of the day.
As was the case in the women’s race, a pack of six ran together beyond the half-way mark. Nguse Amlosom, Atsedu Tsegay, Alex Oloitiptip, Elijah Serem, Merhawi Kesete and Geoffrey Kusuro remained together at 15km, but a few kilometres later the lead pack was down to four with Kesete and Kusuro having fallen off the pace.
Serem was the next to drift back, followed by Oloitiptip. Amlosom and Tsegay continued to battle right to the end, but it was Eritrea’s African 10,000m champion Amlosom who had the best finishing pace, grabbing the victory in 1:02:38, one second ahead of Ethiopian record-holder Tsegay.
Oloitiptip ensured at least one Kenyan runner made it on to the podium, taking third in 1:02:44, 23 seconds in front of compatriot Serem.
Antonio Fernandes for the IAAF
1 Nguse Amlosom (ERI) 1:02:38
2 Atsedu Tsegay (ETH) 1:02:39
3 Alex Oloitiptip Korio (KEN) 1:02:44
4 Elijah Tirop Serem (KEN) 1:03:07
5 Merhawi Kesete (ERI) 1:03:29
1 Asbel Kipsang (KEN) 2:09:26
2 Samuel Theuri (KEN) 2:09:56
3 Daniel Kiprop Limo (KEN) 2:12:14
4 Duncan Mayo (KEN) 2:13:03
1 Beatrice Mutai (KEN) 1:09:50
2 Wude Ayalew (ETH) 1:09:53
3 Rebecca Kangogo Chesir (KEN) 1:10:00
4 Feyse Tadese (ETH) 1:10:29
5 Angela Tanui (KEN) 1:10:37
1 Purity Rionoripo (KEN) 2:25:09
2 Margaret Agai (KEN) 2:29:12
3 Beshadu Bekele (ETH) 2:42:16
4 Rosa Madureira (POR) 2:53:57