Breaking away from the field just four kilometres into the race, pre-race favourite Matthew Kisorio collected a convincing win at the 66th annual Kagawa-Marugame Half Marathon on Sunday.
Although he covered the first 5Km and 14:02 and 10Km in 28:01, on course to break this IAAF Silver Label Road Race’s course record of 59:48, the Kenyan began to slow after 15Km and finished in 1:00:02, less than 15 seconds off the course record.
“My goal today was to break one hour but because I was running alone for most of the race, I missed my goal by two seconds,” Kisorio said.
Next up for the 22-year-old?“I will go back to Kenya to train for the Boston Marathon.”
After Kisorio broke away, three Kenyans – Daniel Gitau, Jacob Wanjuki and Benjamin Gandu – formed the chase pack, and at the end finished second, third and fourth, respectively.
In the women’s race Tiki Gelana broke away after 5Km and won the race by nearly two minutes in 1:08:48.
Course records tumble in Hong Kong
Losing a Marathon by one second last year taught Dejere Abera of Ethiopia a lesson that he put to good use , when he won the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon – an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race – by less than a second.
But, like Dubai this was another Ethiopian double header to relish, and remind the Kenyans that they’re not going to get all their own way in Olympic year.
Indeed so tight and exciting was the men’s finish that Eliud Cheptei in second place shared Dejere’s winning time of 2:11:27, while two more Kenyans, Cosmas Kyeva and Julius Maisei were just one second each further back.
Dejere improved the long standing course record by one minute and 42 seconds, but his colleague, Misiker Demissie took pride of place in that department when her runaway victory in the women’s race, in 2:30:12, took all of three and a half minutes from last year’s course record.
Given the tough course, and the inevitable humidity, around 90% at one stage, albeit with reasonable temperatures of 16-19C, the times were never going to be of the order of last week’s Dubai record breaking spree.
When the leading quartet broke away with 40K in sight, it was always Dereje who was forcing it from the front, mindful he said later of that one second defeat in Ottawa last year to Laban Moiben of Kenya. Dereje managed to get a 10 metres lead two or three times in the last kilometre, but though he was pulled back each time, and then balked by an errant cyclist on the last turn into the finish in Victoria Park, he never looked like losing at that point.
“It wasn’t a problem,” said an ebullient Dereje, though it wasn’t clear whether he was talking of the cyclist or the three close pursuers. “I knew by then I could win. This is my first time in Hong Kong, but I love it.”
And so he should, his win netted him $50,000 with a five figure time bonuses. Though Cheptei shadowed him through the finish line, the Kenyan admitted he never felt he could win.
“He was too strong, I was trying to go with him, but that was to make sure I stayed ahead of the third guy.”
There was more confusion over Misiker’s change of name than her running tactics. It seems that the Ethiopian had an unhappy time running for Bahrain under the name of Teyba Naser and has reverted to a full Ethiopian name of Misiker Mekonnin Demissie, and has been living with husband Zereu Kelele in Albuquerque, New Mexico for some time.
There was no debate about her victory though. She led from the start, and though she had colleague Shitaye Gemechu and Kenyan Winfred Nyansikera right behind until past halfway, when she accelerated at 30 kilometres, she ran right away from them.
Both her pursuers had other problems, Shitaye finished with a one shoe full of blood from a toe injury, and Nyansikera had to stop for a vomiting fit. But Shitaye just managed to stay ahead to take second, 2:31:44, to Nyansikera’s 2:31:47.