GRANOLLERS, Spain, February 2 – Reigning Olympic Marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru grabbed a huge win at the ‘24th Mitja Marató de Granollers’ held on Sunday in 20 kilometres away from Barcelona.
The 22-year-old Wanjiru, who is also the current World record holder for the distance (58.33 from Den Haag 2007) confessed prior to the race that he was not in the same kind of form as last year when he clocked a superb 59:26 here and so the Kenyan ace did not ask for pacemakers.
Right from the start Wanjiru dictated the pace with his fellow Kenyans Alex Kirui and Thomson Cherogony plus Spain’s José Ríos for company, but at the fifth kilometre only Kirui remained at Wanjiru’s shoulder.
The decisive movement came in the 8th kilometre when Wanjiru broke away from Kirui to cover the first half of the race, which is uphill, in 31:09 (for last year’s 30:13) building a 6-second advantage over Kirui, himself no less than 53 seconds clear of Cherogony and Ríos.
The downhill second section witnessed a solo effort by Wanjiru en route to a fine 61:13 success with a huge 1:04 margin over Kirui, timed at 62:16, while a fierce battle for the minor place on the podium took place between Cherogony and Ríos, with the 34-year-old Spaniard overtaking the Kenyan in the closing stages, both athletes being credited 63:11, a PB for the Spaniard.
Ríos, who is a former (2002) European 10,000m bronze medallist was making a test in his build-up for the Otsu Marathon to be held next March.
Wanjiru who is coached by Japan’s 1992 Olympic Marathon silver medallist Koichi Morishita, declared: “I felt comfortable throughout the race. It’s true that I haven’t run as fast as last year but in wet and humid conditions my clocking is reasonably fine.”
London and Berlin, next goals
Asked on his plans in the near future the diminutive Kenyan, who was recently crowned Kenyan 2008 Sports Personality of the Year said: “I now come back to Kenya and plan another Half Marathon next month in Lisbon to build-up for the London Marathon (26 April) where I’ll be targeting a 2:04 clocking (his PB is 2h05:24); after that, I’ll be based in Japan for my Berlin Marathon preparations; I’ll attack the World record there, hopefully…I’ll skip the World Championships in Berlin this summer”.
A confident Wanjiru added: “in five years’ time I feel capable of clocking a sub 2 hours time for the Marathon.”
When asked about his tactics at the Beijing Olympic Marathon he said: “it’s easy to explain: I pushed hard from the gun and whenever I realised that one athlete was able to live with my pace I made another kick to leave him behind,” confirmed Wanjiru with a smile.
The women’s section in Granollers witnessed the success of Spain’s reigning European 5000m champion Marta Domínguez, who was the 20th finisher overall (men and women).
The Spanish 3000m Steeplechase record holder went through the first half in 36:10 to build a massive 1:37 advantage over her compatriot Rosa Morató, herself 35 seconds ahead of British marathoner Holly May.
The 33-year-old Domínguez finally cruised to a comfortable win in 70:54 (PB) to take top spot for the second time after her 2007 victory, while May caught and passed a fading Morató with some four kilometres to go to snatch runner-up place in 74:58, also a PB, for Morató’s 75:32 on her debut over the distance.
1. Samuel Wanjiru (Kenya) 61:13
2. Alex Kirui (Kenya) 62:17
3. José Ríos (Spain) 63:11
4. Thomson Cherogony (Kenya) 63:11
5. Fernando Rey (Spain) 64:42
1. Marta Domínguez (Spain) 70:54
2. Holly May (Great Britain) 74:58
3. Rosa Morató (Spain) 75:32
4. Joyce Chepkurui (Kenya) 78:52
5. Hassna Bahom (Morocco) 79:03