LISBON, September 29 – Silas Sang upset former World marathon record holder Paul Tergat to win the Portugal Half Marathon on Sunday while Rita Jeptoo won the women’s race in a new course record.,
More than 15,000 runners started the race with a strong field from Kenya in the lead from the very first metres.
In the longest hill on the bridge – the runners start on the Vasco da Gama bridge, cross the last six kilometres of the 26-kilometre long structure – the Kenyan contingent took the lead and put everyone on a strong pace, covering the first 10Km in 28 minutes.
By 12Km only half a dozen were still at the front, but it was on the flat final 5Km where everything was written, with the most improbable contender, Silas Sang, who had a personal best of 1:01:15 from Seville last year – taking the lead and ultimately crossing the finish line seven seconds ahead of 39-year-old Tergat.
“This shining morning was inspiring me,” said Sang. “I’m very, very happy with my win, in a race of thousands of people, this was so nice!”
There was a feeling of joy also for the runner-up Tergat. “I’ve been in Lisbon several times to race the other Half Marathon,” he said. “This was a challenge to me, this other race. With a more selective course and the strong wind, I take here the lesson I needed for my presence, soon, in the New York Marathon. This was a great test to my performance.”
In third place was another Kenyan, Samuel Mwangi, the winner of this year’s Prague half marathon, who achieved a personal best of 1:01:41, a 24-second improvement.
The Olympic marathon silver medallist, Moroccan Jaouad Gharib, was the first non-Kenyan in the race, finishing sixth in 1:02:17,while the first Portuguese was Hermano Ferreira, who was a distant 16th (1:05:09).
Kenyans also dominated the women’s race, taking all the podium places, with Rita Jeptoo who was third at the Boston Marathon this year, producing a strong personal best in 1:09.48 to break Margaret Okayo’s course record from 2004 by five seconds.
She was well clear of Alice Timbilil, who finished 25 seconds back, and Salina Kosgei, one of the pre-race favourites to this race, who was third, nearly a minute behind Timbilil.
“This was a good but difficult test for my goal, the New York City Marathon,” said Jeptoo. “It was too windy, but I’m in good shape and I won. Even I was not expecting this.”
Producing a surprise,
Portuguese Inês Monteiro was fourth, with a solid 1:11:33 run, ahead of her countrywoman Dulce Félix.
Among the crowd was the Portuguese Prime Minister, José Sócrates, who finished the 8Km fun run in time to offer the prizes for the three first runners.