As every year, this was the world's first marathon of the year, but in this 5th edition of the race local runners made some history of their own writes Wallace Williams.
Pamenos Ballantyne of St. Vincent and The Grenadines, best local Billy Bohlke, and Jose Rodriquez (winner of the Virgin Islands Half-Marathon-Race Against Drugs six weeks earlier) ran stride-for-stride for the first 25km of Monday's race.
The bright moon, overcast skies and flat course made the conditions ideal within this tropical environment. Ballantyne, defeated by St Lucian Victor Ledger in Barbados a month earlier, was tuning up to defend his Trinidad Marathon title four weeks later.
Around 29km, as the race turned around at Fort Frederik for a second trip to Hamms Bluff and back, Ballantyne broke away from Bohlke to win — and record the fastest marathon time ever run in the Virgin Islands. Bohlke, a pilot in the USAF who had served the last five months in Afghanistan and has not had many opportunities to train, still recorded the fastest marathon ever run by a V.I. runner on a V.I. course.
Theresa Harper eased into the running early in the race on one of the most beautiful courses in the world as she chased Ruth Ann David, a novice marathoner who led through the first mile in 5:33. That torrid pace eventually forced David to retire to the emergency room but Harper went on to win for the third successive year in the fastest marathon ever run by a female on a V.I. course.
This 5th edition of the race was dedicated to Larry Williams, a longtime supporter.
MEN: 1 Pamenos BALLANTYNE STV 2:40:28 2 Billy BOHLKE VGI 2:50:25 3 Jose RODRIGUEZ PUR 2:55:20 WOMEN: 1 Theresa HARPER VGI 3:40:21
A record 850 runners from 22 countries took part in the traditional out-and-back race around the Sea of Galilee, held in a comfortable weather but affected by side winds.
Musir Salem Jawher, a 28-year old Kenyan originally called Leonard Mucheru who had taken Bahrain citizenship in 2003, won his debut marathon. Lead runners went through halfway in 1:07:06 and Jawher needed a sprint finish against pacemaker Joseph Kirwa Birgen. They both surprisingly beat race favourite, Patrick Ivuti (who didn't finish) and the defending champion John Rotich.
Jawher entered Israel on his Kenyan passport and participated without informing the Bahraini Athletic Union. Following the race the Union issued a statement in which they revoked his Bahraini citizenship for "violating the laws of Bahrain" by competing in Israel.
MEN: 1 Leonard MUCHERA KEN 2:13:12 2 Joseph Kirwa BIRGEN KEN 2:13:14 3 Simon BOR KEN 2:13:34 4 Benjamin Kipketer BOR KEN 2:13:48 5 Bellor Miningwo YATOR KEN 2:14:06 6 John ROTICH KEN 2:16:13 7 Benjamin KIPTARUS KEN 2:16:34 8 Josphat Kipchoge ROP KEN 2:17:03 9 Asaf BIMRO ISR 2:17:34 10 Vodage ZVADYA ISR 2:17:44 WOMEN: 1 Nili ABRAMSKI ISR 2:39:24 2 Orna BLAU ISR 2:58:29 3 Yael LEFLER ISR 3:12:37 4 Lyla FRENKEL ISR 3:15:30 5 Galya AMDOR ISR 3:21:50 6 Shiri HAFER ISR 3:26:13 7 Michal RAJOAN ISR 3:39:17 8 Rona ZAMIR ISR 3:35:38 9 Yarli HARELI ISR 3:35:48 10 Rina BASLO ISR 3:35:55
MEN: 1 Ho Chan KA HKG 1:12:30 2 Ka Man GI HKG 1:13:26 3 Hok Lan YAI HKG 1:14:25 4 Man Lau KWONG HKG 1:15:45 5 Wai Kwok CHAN HKG 1:15:55 6 Hoi To HO HKG 1:15:57 7 Kouichi IMACHI JPN 1:16:09 8 Hok Man TSE HKG 1:16:20 9 Tung Hoi YIP HKG 1:16:27 10 Kau Tai NG HKG 1:16:29 WOMEN: 1 Terumi NIWA JPN 1:23:49 2 Suet Leung YING HKG 1:24:28 3 Sui Ping WONG HKG 1:26:37 4 So Liang TOH HKG 1:26:43 5 Kit Yee CHAN HKG 1:27:05 6 Sui Ping FAN HKG 1:27:32 7 Fan Leung YUEN HKG 1:29:15 8 Rachael SPROTSON HKG 1:30:59 9 Gillian CASTKA HKG 1:31:07 10 Larissa KA HKG 1:31:37
Askale Magarsa of Ethiopia shattered the event record when she ran away to victory in a personal best time of 2:27:19 writes Pat Butcher. Kenyan William Rotich ran the second fastest time in the eight-year history of the event, 20 seconds shy of Joseph Kahuga's 2003 performance.
Conditions were unusually cool for the Emirate— 12°C at the 07.00 start, rising to 16°C at the finish. With the new flat course along the sea, turning at the famous 7-star Burj Al Arab hotel, fast times were almost assured.
Even so, 23-year old Askale's time was extraordinary. She ran alone from 11km and at halfway was on 2:25:30 pace. She dropped only a little time in the second half, to beat her three-month old personal best from Milan by 38 seconds. She finished over six minutes faster than the previous best for the event, 2:33:31 by Alina Ivanova in 2002. Her husband, Debele Tola, finished five minutes ahead of her.
Benoit Zwierzchlewski of France ensured the pack got off to a flying start in the men's race. The European record holder (2:06:36), coming back after a lengthy injury set a perfect pace, to pass through halfway in 64:35 with a pack of 20 in tow.
When he dropped out the pace momentarily faltered but defending champion Joseph Ngeny and Rotich soon took up the challenge. Ngeny dropped off the pace at 38km, and finished fifth. A kilometre later Rotich surged ahead and built up a winning margin of over 40 seconds.
"This is a good fast course. I think with the right people and pacing, someone could do 2:05 here" he said. Two days before the race Dubai Holdings had announced a one million dirham (US$275,000) bonus for a world record in Dubai.
MEN: 1 William ROTICH KEN 2:09:53 2 Joseph WAMBUA KEN 2:10:34 3 Musa KANDA KEN 2:10:40 4 Alfonce YATICH KEN 2:10:58 5 Joseph NGENY KEN 2:11:03 6 Khalid EL BOUMLILI MAR 2:11:40 7 William BIAMA KEN 2:12:24 8 Halefom TESEGAYE ETH 2:13:38 9 James KOSKEI KEN 2:14:02 10 Augustus KAVUTU KEN 2:14:25 WOMEN: 1 Askale MAGARSA ETH 2:27:19 2 Abebe EDA ETH 2:35:39 3 Adenech JEMILU ETH 2:39:28 4 Mulie GURMU ETH 2:39:35 5 Alem GEBREEZGI ETH 2:40:11 6 Hirut LEGESSE ETH 2:45:33
Course records were set for both men and women in the marathon, and in the men's 10km.
MEN: 1 Ketma AMERSSISSA ETH 2:15:26 2 David KIPLAGAT KUINO KEN 2:15:39 3 Mark YATICH KEN 2:16:10 4 Desse DEMELESH ETH 2:16:31 5 Yacob YATOR KEN 2:16:51 6 Abel CHIMUKOKO ZIM 2:17:49 7 Peter MUTISYA KEN 2:18:18 8 Julius MUTAI KEN 2:18:24 9 Oswald REVERIAN TAN 2:18:56 10 Alemu GEBREMICHEAL ETH 2:20:20 WOMEN: 1 Merima DENBOBA ETH 2:32:54 2 Tigist TITO ETH 2:39:51 3 Valentina POLTVASKA UKR 2:40:05 4 Tringo GETACHEW ETH 2:40:05 5 Jane ROTICH KEN 2:41:07 6 Mihret ANAMO ETH 2:45:11 7 Tatyana MAKAROVA RUS 2:52:01 8 Lisa WIKLUND SWE 2:54:15 9 Loice KANGOGO KEN 2:57:39 10KM: MEN: 1 Patrick MAKAU KEN 28:02 2 Nicholas MAKAU KEN 28:09 3 Abera ERTIBAN ETH 28:35 WOMEN: 1 Belaynesh FEKADU ETH 32:05 2 Cathy MUTWA KEN 32:34 3 Genet MEASSO ETH 33:58
MEN: 1 Alejandro S CRUZ 1:07:16 2 Cesar L MIRAVETE 1:07:38 3 Isreal A ACOSTA 1:08:17 4 Jerome ROSS 1:08:54 5 Bernal K SONGOKA 1:10:26 6 Francisco F MIRANDA 1:11:23 7 Jaime R MARTINEZ 1:15:24 8 Samir SEPULVEDA 1:15:39 9 John CLARK 1:15:44 10 Jorge L J GASTLUM 1:16:46 WOMEN: 1 Emma M CARMONA 1:23:21 2 Martha P A MALDONADO 1:26:50 3 Esmeraldo GUILLEN 1:28:31 4 Alenjandra ALANIS 1:40:11 5 Carmen PEREZ 1:41:57 6 Julia L FLORES 1:45:34 7 Jody DIRKS 1:45:47 8 Corrine GABLE 1:50:08 9 Blanca I G HERNANDEZ 1:51:06 10 Yarai P QUIJANO 1:54:07 5K MEN: 1 Mario C RIOS 21:06 2 Ruben C PEREZ 21:38 3 Jose R M TOLEDO 21:40 WOMEN: 1 Daniela A I COLLINS 21:07 2 Diane TRIBBETT 21:07 3 Hana JOHNSON 21:07
The men's race held to a steady pace, passing through halfway in just over 66 minutes with a large group still together. On the return journey the pace reamined steady but the rising heat of the morning and the increasing fatigue of the runners meant that the group thinned out to five before 30km. Pacemaker Simon Kasimili dropped out at 32km but he had launched the leading four firmly towards the finish line. They strung out further up the main hill on the course at 35km, but the leading pair fought a close duel all the way along the 4km-long "Queen's Necklace" and even to within the final kilometre of the course. John Kelai had done most of the leading over the final stretch and his strength was such that he got away for a small but confident win.
In the women's race Leila Aman led through 15km ahead of Marashet Jimma. Aman had finished second and third in this race in previous years, but Jimma overtook her and by halfway was leading by about 40m, while Aman was among a chasing group of seven. All fell away in the second half, as the more cautious staters came through. Xia Yang Feng, running only her second marathon, judged the pace well and overhauled all the many runners who led her through the early stages. Letay Negash and Jennifer Chesinon had also started more slowly, and came through to fiinish second and third. Marashet Jimma held together best of those ambitious early leaders to take fourth.
MEN: 1 John KELAI KEN 2:12:27 2 Gashaw MALESE ETH 2:12:32 3 Tariku JUFAR ETH 2:12:49 4 Stanley LELEITO KEN 2:14:21 5 Robert CHERUIYOT KEN 2:14:49 6 Robert KIPYEGO KEN 2:14:59 7 Vincent KIPTOO KEN 2:15:08 8 Jacob MENGICH KEN 2:15:22 9 Michael NGASEKE ZIM 2:16:07 10 Julius SEUREI KEN 2:17:05 WOMEN: 1 Xia Yang FENG CHN 2:36:16 2 Letay NEGASH ETH 2:37:04 3 Jennifer CHESINON KEN 2:38:13 4 Marashet JIMMA ETH 2:38:49 5 Irene MOGAKA KEN 2:41:12 6 Tegla LORUPE KEN 2:42:52 7 Wudnesh NEGA ETH 2:44:17 8 F FILONYUK UKR 2:44:27 9 Etenesh TADESSA ETH 2:44:41 10 Banuela KATESIGWA TAN 2:48:33 HALF MARATHON: MEN: 1 Deep CHAND IND 1:08:03 2 Lone Bhairav SINGH IND 1:08:25 3 Sachin SONOWANE IND 1:08:27 WOMEN: 1 Madhuri GUMELE IND 1:19:54 2 Fabiola OPPLIGER SUI 1:26:44 3 Bhagwati IND 1:27:49
MEN: 1 Tsang Siu KEUNG 2:52:36 2 Wong Ka WAI 2:53:34 3 Lai Ming FAI 2:55:01 4 Alvin CHAN 2:56:18 5 Peter HOPPER 2:59:41 6 Wong Luen PAI 3:03:34 7 Chung Yu HO 3:03:40 8 Chung Man FAI 3:06:46 9 Li Yiu CHEUNG 3:07:42 10 Ng Wai MING 3:08:02 WOMEN: 1 Fan Sui PING 3:18:36 2 Chan Chun HING 3:25:11 3 Caroline KNG 3:35:44 4 Chan Pui SHAN 3:40:38 5 Angelina F Sin KONG 3:43:58 6 Catherine LEONARD 3:48:12 7 Monica NG 3:48:54 8 Yeung Mei LUN 3:51:24 9 Lam Siu YUNG 3:54:40 10 Wu Kwok Chun ELLIE 3:59:59 HALF MARATHON MEN: 1 Martin KENNARD 1:18:42 2 Cheng Wai LEE 1:20:24 3 Chiang Wai MING 1:20:38 WOMEN: 1 Grace BALINTONG 1:35:47 2 Cheung Sze LAM 1:35:52 3 Pauline P Ling CHEUNG 1:37:30
Kazutaka Eguchi/Agence SHOT photos
Breaking away from Yoko Shibui at 29Km, Yumiko Hara went on to win the race and a place in the Japanese women's team for the World Championships marathon to be held in Osaka on 2 September, writes Ken Nakamura.
Second-placed Mari Ozaki and third-placed Yuri Kano (in her marathon debut) also ran fast and are likely to be included in the five-strong team for the World Championships, but all depends on the results of Nagoya Women's Marathon in March.
Yoko Shibui took off from the start with pace setter Adriana Pirtea, but Hara stayed close to them, while rest of the contenders formed a second group. After passing 5km in 16:52, Pirtea fell behind and soon dropped out. The second group – Lucy Wangui, Mari Ozaki, Yuri Kano, Kazue Ogoshi, Tomo Morimoto, Inga Abitova and Miho Notagashira, were 10 seconds behind.
Shibui towed Hara through 10km in 33:21, 15Km in 50:04, 20Km in 1:06:45 and a half way in 1:10:24. At halfway, they were three seconds outside course record (2:21:18) pace. The following pack was losing ground, and trailed by 1:35 at 20km. At halfway it had dwindled to just Wangui, Ozaki, Kano, Ogoshi and Abitova, and Ogushi fell back at 23km. Up front, Shibui slowed leading up to 29km, and Hara went ahead to lead Shibui by 10 seconds at 30km. She continued to pull away but the second pack had been broken apart by Ozaki and Kano who started to gain on Hara after 25km. At 31km Ozaki left Kano and really started to chase Hara, closing the gap by 34 seconds between 30-35km.
Still in second, Shibui was suffering. She stopped at 34km and soon after was passed by Ozaki. Kano also went ahead of Shibui as she took 18:41 from 30-35km and 23:17 for 35-40km, finishing a distant tenth.
Meanwhile Hara was fighting with the wind. "The wind was strongest after 35km. Even downhill was hard," she said. Both Ozaki and Kano continued to gain on Hara, but Hara was never really threatened, winning by more than 50 seconds - just 20 seconds short of her personal best. She had finished sixth in the Helsinki World Championships in 2005, but has suffered with injury problems since.
1 Yumiko HARA JPN 2:23:48 2 Mari OZAKI JPN 2:24:39 3 Yuri KANO JPN 2:24:43 4 Kazue OGOSHI JPN 2:31:04 5 Yuka EZAKI JPN 2:31:35 6 Lidia SIMON ROM 2:32:09 7 Nuta OLARU ROM 2:33:47 8 Yukako GOTO JPN 2:33:51 9 Miyuki ANDO JPN 2:34:03 10 Yoko SHIBUI JPN 2:34:15
MEN: 1 Joel Kiplimo KEMBOI KEN 2:21:36 2 Boonchu CHANDEJA THA 2:24:21 3 Sutat KALLAYANAKITTI THA 2:24:36 4 John KIPLIMO KEN 2:26:50 5 Korde SENMOOD THA 2:32:44 6 Panom MAPENG THA 2:33:38 7 Norkaew NOIMOH THA 2:33:53 8 Meechai CHUCHEEP THA 2:33:58 9 Brent ROEGER USA 2:35:23 10 Petchsuporn KHANTHAPHOL THA 2:35:57 WOMEN: 1 Wioletta URYGA POL 2:52:28 2 Sunisa SAILOMYEN THA 2:52:29 3 Ketmanee SENAPHAN THA 2:53:40 4 Patcharee CHAITHONGSRI THA 2:55:00 5 Arpassara PRASARTHINPIMAI THA 2:59:17 6 Amnuay KIAM-NGU-LEARM THA 3:07:47 7 Sayamon PHUKMIT THA 3:15:58 8 Montian KAENKAEW THA 3:16:19 9 Caroline Jeruto KIGEN KEN 3:16:28 10 Dusanee SAE-HENG THA 3:26:39
MEN: 1 Pedro J ARRIETA 2:40:27 2 Miguel V GUERRERO 2:43:17 3 Eliecer C OBANDO 2:45:18 4 Martin C GUTIERREZ 2:49:22 5 Jorge O CASCANTE 2:52:01 6 Harold C CORRALES 2:52:49 7 Luis M BAQUEDANO 2:52:57 8 Kenneth R GUTIERREZ 2:58:00 9 Grego C MEJIAS 2:59:41 10 Ronny V JIMENEZ 3:00:26 WOMEN: 1 Cristina M GONZALEZ 3:19:10 2 Zulay C VARGAS 3:23:17 3 Josefina D MURILLO 3:23:36 4 Rosibel A CORRALES 3:23:46 5 Maria C VILLEGAS 3:54:12 6 Ana C VILLALTA 3:56:57 7 Percy O GRANADOS 4:08:17 8 Zaida O HERRERA 4:13:36 9 Dilcia A BARQUERO 4:21:20 10 Veracita G ROMERO 4:22:40
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