Priscah Jeptoo and Vincent Rerimoi claimed a Kenyan double at the 44th edition of the Stramilano Half Marathon in Milan on Sunday (24).
Held in warm weather conditions with a temperature of 22C, Jeptoo returned from a two-year maternity break to win the women’s race in 1:08:26.
Rerimoi, meanwhile, was a surprising winner of the men’s race in 1:00:10, beating steeplechase specialist Jairus Birech, who finished runner-up in 1:00:32 on his debut at the distance.
Jeptoo and Ethiopia’s Meseret Meleka took an early lead in the women’s race, covering the first five kilometres in 16:10 and 10 kilometres in 32:16. Kenya’s Lucy Murigi Wambui, twice world mountain champion and Stramilano winner in 2014, was in third place at that point with 33:07.
Jeptoo, the 2011 world and 2012 Olympic silver medallist, pulled away from Meleka after the half-way point and went through 15 kilometres in 48:27. The 2013 London and New York City marathon champion stepped up her pace in the final six kilometres and romped home in 1:08:26 in Piazza Castello in the centre of Milan. Meleka finished second in 1:10:39, ahead of Wambui (1:11:47).
Jeptoo, now 34, hadn’t raced since October 2016 when she finished fourth at the Amsterdam Marathon in 2:25:57.
“I have dedicated the past two years to my family and I did not compete due to maternity leave,” she said. “I am happy with my come-back. Last week I fell during training and I was not in my top shape. I will run a half marathon in Gothenburg in May and possibly a marathon in the autumn.”
Kenya’s Paul Tiongik took the early lead in the men’s race, clocking 13:55 for the first five kilometres. He was followed 15 seconds later by a chasing group comprising Rerimoi, Birech, James Kibet and James Mburugu.
Birech, a two-time Diamond League champion in the steeplechase, had a five-second lead over Rerimoi at 10 kilometres, reached in 28:14. His lead grew to 17 seconds at 15 kilometres, which he passed in 42:32.
Rerimoi came from behind in the closing stages and overtook Birech at 18 kilometres. He crossed the finish line in 1:00:10, smashing his previous of 1:01:19 set last year in Japan, where he lives and trains.
Birech, competing in his first half marathon and just his third road race at any distance, finished second in 1:00:32 ahead of Tiongik (1:02:07) and Joel Mwangi (1:02:15). Italy’s Lorenzo Dini was fifth in a PB of 1:03:35.
“It’s the best race of my career,” said Rerimoi. “I realised at 16 kilometres that I could win. It was a good course but it was hot. I have a 5000m PB of 13:35, but I prefer running road races. I hope this win will start a new stage in my career.”
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1 Vincent Rerimoi (KEN) 1:00:10
2 Jairus Birech Kipchoge (KEN) 1:00:32
3 Paul Tiongik (KEN) 1:02:07
4 Joel Maina Mwangi (KEN) 1:02:15
5 Lorenzo Dini (Italy) 1:03:35
1 Priscah Jeptoo (KEN) 1:08:26
2 Meseret Meleka (ETH) 1:10:39
3 Lucy Murigi Wambui (KEN) 1:11:47
4 Ziporah Kingori Wanjiru (KEN) 1:12:21
5 Maude Mathys (SUI) 1:13:46
Course records fall at Wuxi Marathon
Tsehay Gebre Getiso and Asnake Dubre Negawo secured an Ethiopian double at the Beverly Wuxi Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label road race, on Sunday (24), as both course records were smashed.
The 26-year-old Getiso outraced compatriot Bekelu Beji in a thrilling last three-kilometre duel to take the top honours in 2:28:06, beating the course record of 2:29:17 set by Ethiopia’s Ayelu Abebe Hordofa two years ago.
It was Getiso’s second career win following her title at the Kunming Marathon last year and she improved her personal best by nearly five minutes.
“I am in a very good form and my expectation for the race was to set a PB,” said Getiso, whose previous career best of 2:32:57 was achieved at the 2017 Casablanca Marathon. “But I didn’t expect that I could improve it by more than four minutes.
“There are several bridges on the course and the upward slopes make the race a bit difficult, but the weather was quite good,” she added.
Running in cool weather conditions with temperatures ranging from 9-13C, Getiso stayed in a leading group of more than 10 runners for the first 15 kilometres, which included defending champion Priscilla Kipruto Chepatiy of Kenya.
The leaders were trimmed to seven after halfway and further cut to five after 24 kilometres.
Getiso launched her first charge after 30 kilometres, and only Beji managed to keep up. The duo remained together for another nine kilometres until Getiso finally pulled clear following a series of speed changes.
The 19-year-old Beji trailed 15 seconds behind Getiso to take second place in 2:28:21, improving her PB by more than four minutes. Ethiopia’s Motu Megersa was a remote third-place finisher in a PB of 2:30:46.
The men’s race also was also decided after 40 kilometres with the top eight finishers separated by just half a minute. All of them beat the course record of 2:12:47 set by last year’s champion Berga Birhanu Bekele of Ethiopia.
Negawo, winner of 2017 Shaoxing Marathon, clocked a PB of 2:10:21 to clinch the title, followed by compatriot Balew Yihunle in 2:10:22 as the 20-year-old improved his PB by 31 seconds.
Berhanu Heye clocked 2:10:25 to complete the Ethiopian podium sweep on his marathon debut.
There was a crowded leading pack in the early stages. A group of 13 men were bunched together at 15 kilometres, reached in 46:27, and 20 kilometres, covered in 1:01:54. When the leaders passed the water tables at 30 kilometres, there were still 11 runners left and none of them seemed to be willing to take the risk of speeding up too early.
Olivier Irabaruta of Burundi tried to break away at 32 kilometres but was soon caught by the chasers. After 40 kilometres the Ethiopian trio of Negawo, Yihunle and Heye managed to pull away from the others, with Negawo emerging victorious from the last 500-metre battle to secure a thrilling victory.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF