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Namibian distance runner Helalia Johannes in action in the marathon (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report

Road round-up: Johannes victorious in Nagoya, Bounasr wins Lake Biwa Marathon, records fall in Barcelona, Salpeter wins Roma-Ostia Half

Commonwealth champion Helalia Johannes (marathon world rank: 53) won the Nagoya Women’s Marathon on Sunday (10), smashing own Namibian record at the IAAF Gold Label road race with 2:22:25.

The pace makers kept a fast and steady pace and each of the five-kilometre segments up to 25km was covered under 17 minutes. The leaders covered the first five kilometres in 16:53, 10 kilometres in 33:44, 15 kilometres in 50:43, 20 kilometres in 1:07:35 and the half way point in 1:11:17.

After passing 25 kilometres in 1:24:31, the pacemakers dropped out at 30 kilometres (1:41:34) and the real racing started. Visiline Jepkesho (marathon world rank: 13) and Valary Jemeli Aiyabei (marathon world rank: 11) surged ahead and Defar briefly tried to go with them but was unable to keep up with the Kenyans and fell behind.

Jepkesho made a couple of attempts to move ahead of Jemeli between 33 and 38 kilometres, while Johannes slowly worked her way up to catch Jemeli just before 39 kilometres, and then passed Jepkesho a couple of minutes later.

The 38-year-old went on to win in 2:22:25, taking three-and-a-half minutes off the national record she set when finishing 11th at the 2012 Olympic Games. Jepkesho followed in 2:22:58, three seconds ahead of Aiyabei (2:23:01).

“I had stomach problem at about 25 kilometres, but I was able to gut it out,” said Johannes.

In just her second marathon, two-time Olympic 5000m champion Defar took nearly four minutes off her previous best to finish fourth in 2:23:33.

In fifth, Japan’s Reiwa Iwade improved her personal best by more than 30 seconds. “I was so happy to be the first Japanese in the race,” said Iwade, who passed Kayoko Fukushi just before 41 kilometres. “My problem was that I could not change the pace at 30km. I need to work harder.”

Iwade has already qualified for the Marathon Grand Championships (MGC), Japan’s Olympic marathon team trials, but the next five Japanese finishers – Fukushi, Miyuki Uehara, Sairi Maeda, Mizuki Tanimoto, and Ayano Ikemitsu – all qualified for the MGC, bringing the total number of qualifiers to 14.

Ken Nakamura for the IAAF

Leading results

1 Helalia Johannes (NAM) 2:22:25
2 Visiline Jepkesho (KEN) 2:22:58
3 Valary Jemeli Aiyabei (KEN) 2:23:01
4 Meseret Defar (ETH) 2:23:33
5 Reia Iwade (JPN) 2:23:52
6 Monica Jepkoesh (KEN) 2:23:59
7 Sara Dossena (ITA) 2:24:00
8 Kayoko Fukushi (JPN) 2:24:09
9 Miyuki Uehara (JPN) 2:24:19


Bounasr leads three inside 2:08 at Lake Biwa Marathon

Salah Eddine Bounasr (marathon world rank: 36) outkicked Asefa Tefera and Stephen Mokoka (marathon world rank: 17) in the final stages of the Lake Biwa Marathon in Otsu to win the IAAF Gold Label road race in a PB of 2:07:52.

The Moroccan improved his previous best by more than a minute and a half to win by a narrow margin of four seconds.

As is often the case, the Lake Biwa Marathon turned into a race of attrition. The leaders covered five kilometres in 15:16, 10 kilometres in 30:24, 15 kilometres in 45:39, 20 kilometres in 1:00:58 and the half marathon in 1:04:14. The large lead pack was reduced to approximately 30 runners by 25 kilometres (1:16:04).

After the pacemakers left the race at 30 kilometres (1:31:07), Deriba Robi (marathon world rank: 52) started to push the pace. Eight runners passed 35 kilometres in 1:46:17, but by 40 kilometres the race was down to five runners: Bounasr, Tefera, Mokoka, Benson Seurei and Robi.

Bounasr eventualy emerged as the winner in 2:07:52, the fastest winning time since 2012. Tefera was second in a PB of 2:07:56, while Mokoka was third in 2:07:58, the second-best time of his career.

Salah Eddine Bounasr on his way to winning the Lake Biwa Marathon (Victah Sailer)Salah Eddine Bounasr on his way to winning the Lake Biwa Marathon (Victah Sailer) © Copyright

 

Seurei was fourth (2:08:08) and Robi fifth (2:08:11), while Tanzania’s Alphonce Simbu set a PB of 2:08:27 in sixth.

Kenji Yamamoto, the top Japanese finisher, set a PB of 2:08:42 to place seventh. Boston Marathon champion Yuki Kawauchi, in his last race before turning professional, was eighth in 2:09:21, the 13th sub-2:10 clocking of his career.

If selected for the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, Kawauchi will skip the Marathon Grand Championships (MGC), Japan’s Olympic marathon team trials.

Both Yamamoto and Kawauchi have already qualified for the MGC. The next two Japanese finishers in today’s race, Hiroyuki Yamamoto (10th, 2:10:33) and Daiji Kawai (11th, 2:10:50), have now qualified for the MGC, bringing the total number of qualifiers to 30.

Ken Nakamura for the IAAF

Leading results

1 Salah Eddine Bounasr (MAR) 2:07:52
2 Asefa Tefera (ETH) 2:07:56
3 Stephen Mokoka (RSA) 2:07:58
4 Benson Seurei (BRN) 2:08:08
5 Deriba Robi (ETH) 2:08:11
6 Alphonce Felix Simbu (TAN) 2:08:27
7 Kenji Yamamoto (JPN) 2:08:42
8 Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) 2:09:21


Bekele and Tahir break race records in Barcelona

Bahrain’s Alemu Bekele and Ethiopia’s Kuftu Tahir were surprise winners at the Zurich Marató de Barcelona, an IAAF Bronze Label road race, on Sunday (10). Held in ideal weather conditions, the top four finishers in each notched career bests.

The pacemakers in the men’s race went through five kilometres in 14:55, 10 kilometres in 29:52, and 15 kilometres in 44:59. By the halfway point, reached in 1:03:14, Kenya’s Philemon Kacheran and Brian Kipsang were running together at the front with the rest of favourites tucked behind. The lead pack of 10 men was well inside schedule to break the race record of 2:07:30.

The fastest man in the field, Eliud Kiptanui, withdrew at 25 kilometres, which the leaders reached in 1:14:46. At 30 kilometres (1:29:45) hot favourite Laban Rotich lost any winning chances as he couldn’t follow the pace set by the Kenyan contingent of Kacheran, Anthony Maritim, Laban Mutai and Brian Kipsang, the Ethiopian triumvirate of Limenih Getachew, Abebe Negewo and Gizachew Hailu plus Bahrain’s Alemu Bekele.

With the clock reading 1:31, Kacheran made his move and only Negewo and Bekele could live with his pace. This trio took turns in the lead and passed 35 kilometres in 1:44:28 with defending champion Maritim and Getachew four seconds in arrears.

More than a minute inside race record pace, the only question mark was who the winner would be. Bekele pushed hard just before 38 kilometres to leave Negewo and Kacheran well behind.

At the tape, 29-year-old Bekele was timed at 2:06:04 a massive five-minute improvement on his previous best of 2:11:20 set in Madrid last year. Negewo bounced back over the closing kilometre and managed to pass Maritim and take the runner-up spot – as was the case last month at the Barcelona Half Marathon – in a lifetime best of 2:06:49. Maritim also finished inside 2:07 to set a PB of 2:06:54.

Alemu Bekele wins the Barcelona Marathon (Organisers)Alemu Bekele wins the Barcelona Marathon (Organisers) © Copyright

 

“Honestly, I didn’t expect such a fast time of 2:06 low, I was thinking of 2:08 or so but the conditions have been ideal and I felt great throughout,” said Bekele, who recorded negative splits (1:03:14/1:02:50). “After this performance, I hope to be selected for the World Championships in Doha.”

Similar to the men’s event, the women’s race started fast as pacemakers went through 10km in 34:27 and the halfway point in 1:12:05 with eight women just behind them in the guise of Ethiopians Aberash Fayesa, Tigist Teshome, Meseret Abebayehu and Kuftu Tahir plus Kenyans Joy Kemuna, Alice Cherono, Josephine Chepkoech and Jackline Chepngeno.

Shortly afterwards the main favourite Chepngeno began to lose ground. The lead pack – now down to Chepkoech, Tahir, Kemuna, Abebayehu and Cherono – reached 30km in 1:42:14.

The unheralded Kemuna appeared more comfortable at the 35km point (1:59:27) with only Chepkoech and Tahir for company, but ultimately Tahir was the only one capable of maintaining the race record pace to the end.

Tahir obliterated her previous best of 2:31:27 as she crossed the finish line in 2:24:46 to break her compatriot Helen Bekele’s race record by 18 seconds. Runner-up Chepkoech and third-placed Kemuna also set big PBs, clocking 2:25:20 and 2:25:35 respectively.

Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF

Leading results

Men
1 Alemu Bekele (BRN) 2:06:04
2 Abebe Negewo (ETH) 2:06:49
3 Anthony Maritim (KEN) 2:06:54
4 Philemon Kacheran (KEN) 2:07:12
5 Limenih Getachew (ETH) 2:07:30
6 Laban Mutai (KEN) 2:08:07
7 Brian Kipsang (KEN) 2:09:07
8 Gizachew Hailu (ETH) 2:09:26

Women
1 Kuftu Tahir (ETH) 2:24:44
2 Josephine Chepkoech (ETH) 2:25:20
3 Joy Kemuna (KEN) 2:25:35
4 Alice Cherono (KEN) 2:26:51
5 Aberash Fayesa (ETH) 2:28:14
6 Tigist Teshome (ETH) 2:29:17
7 Meseret Abebayehu (ETH) 2:30:23
8 Euliter Tanui (KEN) 2:38:13


Salpeter and Adole take top honours at Roma-Ostia Half

Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter and Ethiopia’s Guye Adola lived up to expectation by winning the Huawei Roma-Ostia Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Sunday (10).

Salpeter clocked 1:06:40 to win the women’s race, beating Diana Kipyokei (1:07:13) and Antonina Kwambai (1:07:49).

Guye Adola won the men’s race for the second time in his career in 1:00:17, holding off Kenya’s Geoffrey Yegon by six seconds. Cornelius Kangogo started as pacemaker but decided to finish the race and eventually placed third in 1:01:07 ahead of Justus Kangogo (1:01:22), Moses Kibet (1:02:10) and Emmanuel Kipsang (1:02:24).

In the women’s race, Salpeter, Kipyokei, Kwambai, Muliye Dekeko and Perine Nenkampi reached 5km in 15:44 and 10km in 31:25, putting them on schedule for a finishing time just outside 1:06.

Salpeter opened up a gap of five seconds over Kipyokei and Kwambai by 11km and stepped up the pace at 15km (47:14), pulling away from Kipyokei with Kwambai further behind. The European 10,000m champion maintained a regular 3:09/kilometres pace for the first 15km.

Salpeter increased her pace in the closing stages and went on to win in 1:06:40, narrowly missing the course record of 1:06:38 set by Florence Kiplagat in 2012. Salpeter’s winning time is quicker than her PB of 1:07:55 but the course isn’t record eligible.

Lonah Chemtai Salpeter wins the Rome-Ostia Half Marathon (Organisers)Lonah Chemtai Salpeter wins the Rome-Ostia Half Marathon (Organisers) © Copyright

 

“I have mixed feelings today,” said Salpeter, who clocked a marathon PB of 2:24:17 in November. “I am happy for today’s performance as part of my marathon build-up, but I’m disappointed to finish two seconds away from the course record.

“After spending a month doing basic training and shorter races, I travelled to Iten two weeks ago to start my specific preparation for a spring marathon. Today’s race conditions were not 100% ideal because we were bothered by a strong wind. My plan was to attack during the uphill stretch between 9.5-11km and that worked today.”

A five-man leading group formed by Cornelius Kangogo, Justus Kangogo, Guye Adola, Geoffrey Yegon and Moses Kibet went through at 5km in 14:02 and 10km in 28:23, keeping a sub-60-minute pace.

Kibet was the first runner to be dropped after 10km. Adola, Yegon, Justus and Cornelius Kangogo formed the leading quartet, passed 15km in 42:57 but then slowed down, running at 2:52 per kilometre.

After 48 minutes Adola and Yegon pulled away from Cornelius and Justus Kangogo. The leading duo ran neck-to-neck until an uphill section of the course at about 18km, where Adola launched his first kick, but Yegon did not give up and managed to catch up with the Ethiopian runner at 19km.

Adola changed gear with one kilometre to go and won in 1:00:17, repeating his victory from 2017 when he won in 59:18. The 28-year-old Ethiopian narrowly missed his season’s best of 1:00.15 set in Houston in January.

“I am happy because this race marks a great return to form,” said Adola, who finished runner-up to Eliud Kipchoge at the 2017 Berlin Marathon in 2:03:46 on his debut at the distance. “I ran very fast in the final three kilometres. This win is a confidence booster ahead of my next marathon.”

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF

Leading results

Men
1 Guye Adola (ETH) 1:00.17
2 Geoffrey Yegon (KEN) 1:00:23
3 Cornelius Kangogo (KEN) 1:01:07
4 Justus Kangogo (KEN) 1:01:22
5 Moses Kibet (KEN) 1:02:10

Women
1 Lonah Salpeter Chemtai (ISR) 1:06:40
2 Diana Kipyokei (KEN) 1:07:13
3 Antonina Kwambai (KEN) 1:07:50
4 Mulye Dekebo (ETH) 1:07:57
5 Perine Nenkampi (KEN) 1:09:25