Seyefu Tura of Ethiopia and Kenyan Lucy Kabuu took the honours at the 18th edition of the EA7 Emporio Armani Milano Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label road race, on Sunday (8).
In his third marathon of the past five months, Tura, 21, crossed the finish line in 2:09:04. He was second in Seoul in his debut over the distance in 2:09:26 and seventh in Dubai with an impressive 2:04:44 last January.
Kabuu, 34, came from behind to take a close win in the women’s race in 2:27:02 holding off her compatriot Vivian Jerono Kiplagat by six seconds in the final two kilometres.
Three Kenyan pacemakers --Barnabas Kiptum, Stephen Kibet Kosgei and Timothy Rono-- led a group that included last year’s winner Edwin Kipngetich Koech, Justus Kipkosgei Kimutai, Tura, Erik Kimutai Kering and Elijah Tirop. The race set off at a fast pace going through ten kilometres in 30:10 and 15 in 45:08.
Kosgei was the first pacemaker to drop out at halfway leaving Rono and Kiptum at the front with Kimutai, Koech, Tura and Kering. The six-man pack ran a 2:49 split from kilometres 24 to 25 and went through 25 kilometres in 1:14:56.
Kiptum started as a pacemaker but stayed at the front with Tura and Kimutai at 30 kilometres, which they passed in 1:30:09. Tura then broke away from Kiptum at 35 kilometres and forged on through the windy conditions to finish unchallenged in 2:09:04. The effort took its toll on Kiptum, who was overtaken by Kimutai at 38 kilometres in the battle for second place. Kimutai finished runner-up in 2:10:00 beating Kiptum by 17 seconds.
“I am happy with the win, but I struggled with a cramp problem," Tura said. "The final time was not good, but the conditions were not ideal because of the wind."
The women’s race was an all-Kenyan affair with pacemaker Mary Munanu setting the tempo for Kabuu, Changeywo, last year’s winner Sheila Chepkech and Vivian Jerono Kiplagat. They went through 10 kilometres in 34:50 and reached the halfway point in 1:13:20.
Kiplagat, Kabuu, Changeywo and Chepkech remained in the lead going through 30 kilometres in 1:44:25, after Munanu dropped out. Kiplagat, who finished fourth last year, pulled away opening up a gap of 12 seconds over Kabuu at 35 kilometres.
But Kabuu caught up with Kiplagat five kilometres later. Over the final kilometre, the pair ran side-by-side in a close battle for the win. Kabuu, who set the 12th fastest time in history with her impressive 2:19:34 in Dubai in 2012, launched her sprint with 400 metres to go to beat Kiplagat by six seconds in 2:27:02 before celebrating her victory since having a child. In January, Kabuu finished sixth in Hong Kong in 2:31:21.
Chepkech finished in the top-three for the second consecutive year clocking 2:29:25, missing her lifetime best by 12 seconds. Changeywo finished fourth improving her previous personal best of 2:31:50 set in Vienna 2016 by two minutes with 2:29:49.
"I was a bit behind at 40 km but I found the power to come back and win the race," Kabuu said. "I hoped to run 2:25 but I had some problems with the wind. It was a tough race but I managed to take the win."
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF