Peter Wanjiru and Joan Kigen made it a Kenyan double triumph at the Edinburgh Marathon, fighting through strong winds in Scotland’s capital to claim victory at the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race on Sunday (31).
At the head of a 12,000-strong field, 32-year-old Wanjiru proved the hardiest as the strong winds and chilly conditions hampered several of his challengers but he held off his own fatigue to win in 2:19:34.
It was a reward for his ambitious breakaway after a leading pack of three – including compatriots David Toniok and Japhet Koech, who were first and second in 2014 – though halfway in an audacious 1:05:01.
The trio then started to separate just before 30km as the pace and wind started to take its toll. Wanjiru grimaced through the closing stages but survived the climatic difficulties.
“I wasn’t expecting to win because you had the defending champion in David Toniok,” said the 2012 Krakow Marathon champion who notched up his second career win over the classic distance.
“But it was my day today. We were talking during the race and saying we should help each other to get through it with the conditions and land a good time, but it was just too tough. I had to move in front and then, soon, the others were kaput.
"The race was good to halfway, but after that, there was a lot of wind," he added. "At 30km I decided to move. The last mile was very difficult, the wind was blocking me. I even had to stop. If not for the wind, maybe I could have broke the course record. This is my first race of this season, so I am happy to win."
Renault's wheels stay firmly on
With Koech reduced to a stroll, and eventually finishing 17th, Scotland international Neil Renault overtook him and then Toniok in the closing stages to claim second place in 2:24:36, just five weeks after he ran 2:21:45 in London.
“I knew I didn’t have a brilliant run in London,” said the Edinburgh-based challenger. “Three days after it, I didn’t feel really tired. I recover quick and I’ve always trained a lot, even when people told me not to.
“I did a 30-miler around this course a few weeks ago so I knew what I was getting into and then I won a half marathon last weekend so I had some confidence. The only thing that surprised me was the placing. That time doesn’t normally get you on to the podium but you take it.”
Making a push from the start, Joan Kigen went through halfway in 1:16:01 and was a convincing winner of the women’s race in 2:39:43 after surviving her own battle with the winds to notch up her second successive marathon victory after winning in Jerusalem in March.
Now 37, she was well clear of the rest of the women's field, ahead of British pair Charlotte Firth and Samantha Amend, who were second and third in 2:48:50 and 2:49:58 respectively.
“From 17 miles onwards, it was really tough,” said Kigen. “I can’t say I enjoyed it. The course was good but it was a brutal.”
USA’s Thomas Porter and Scotswoman Gemma Rankin won the adjoining Edinburgh half marathon in 1:08:58 and 1:17:21 respectively, with organisers estimating more than 30,000 runners took part in the city’s Marathon Festival over two days this weekend.
Mark Woods for the IAAF