Kenyan runners executed a clean sweep and won all four races at the two IAAF Gold Label Road Races – the Rock ’n’ Roll EDP Lisbon Marathon and the Rock ’n’ Roll Vodafone Half Marathon – contested in the Portuguese capital on Sunday (5).
Samuel Ndungu and Visiline Jepkesho took the top honours in the marathon, winning in 2:08:21 and 2:26:47, both times course records despite rather windy conditions.
Ndungu secured his victory just after the 29th kilometre, when his compatriot Lawrence Kimayo fell after tripping over a pacemaker.
“I was very happy for the win here in Lisbon. I enjoyed much this course, flat and the pacemaker made his job very well,” said Ndungu, clearly referring to the tempo set rather than the fact that one of his main rivals had been hindered.
The leading men, including the first five finishers and their pacemakers, went through the halfway point in 1:03:52, which was close to what Ndungu wanted in his bid to break his personal best of 2:07:04, set when winning the 2012 Lake Biwa Marathon.
“I intended to run under 2:07, but it wasn’t possible today. No problem with anything, it just wasn’t the day. I’ve prepared myself very well for Lisbon and I achieved my goal. Not the time, but the finish,” added Ndungu.
Robert Kwambai was a distant second, more than two minutes behind Ndungu in 2:10:33, with the badly shaken Kimayo third in 2:12:17 to complete an all-Kenyan men’s podium in the marathon.
Visiline Jepkesho now has two wins in two marathons to her name after she added the Lisbon title to the one she won in Milan earlier this year.
After three women went through the halfway point in 1:11:55, Jepkesho was the one who suffered least over the second half of the race and she improved by almost two minutes from her debut over the classic distance in Italy back in April when she crossed the line in Lisbon in 2:26:47.
“I’m very happy with this win. I felt very healthy all the race and I made a great time. I expected to make a good performance but I didn’t think I could reach the personal record,” commented the winner.
Fellow Kenyan and pre-race favourite Agnes Kiprop finished second in 2:28:35 while Ethiopia’s Azalech Masresha was third in 2:29:43.
Kibet kick wins half marathon
With the start in another part of Lisbon and getting underway two hours after the marathon, the half marathon for the elite athletes faced more difficult weather conditions, especially from the wind.
Kenya’s Stephen Kibet started to pull away after 14 kilometres, quickly dropping his remaining rivals: Ethiopian Mosinet Geremew and Uganda’s Geofrey Kusuro.
Kibet passed 15km in 43:07, 26 seconds ahead of Geremew, with Kusuro and Kenya’s Alex Oloitiptip just behind the Ethiopian.
Over the final six kilometres, Kibet stretched his lead further and came home 1:01:06, a time which surely would have been much closer to one hour in stiller conditions.
Geremew hung on to finish second in 1:02:25 with Kusuro third, four second in arrears, and Oloitiptip fourth in 1:02:36.
Eritrea’s world record-holder Zersenay Tadese started to struggle just after 10km after being up with the leaders until that point, later saying that he had been carrying a small injury in recent weeks, but hung on to finish fifth in 1:03:29.
Ethiopia’s 2011 world 10,000m champion Ibrahim Jeilan was another man who found life on the Lisbon roads a little more difficult than expected and he finished eighth in 1:04:10, just edging out Italy’s European marathon champion Daniele Meucci, who finished ninth but was given the same time
In the closest battle for victory on the day, five women were still together at 15km in the half marathon but Purity Rionoripo pulled away to win in 1:11:02, five seconds ahead of local star Sara Moreira, who is currently preparing for her marathon debut in New York next month.
Antonio Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF