DAEGU, Aug 27 – Distance running powerhouse Kenya completed a historic clean sweep of the world championships women’s marathon on Saturday as Edna Kiplagat recovered from a tumble to win in 2hr 28min 43sec.
The 31-year-old, who crashed to the ground with about seven kilometres to go, found the strength to fend off team-mates Priscah Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop to clinch the first gold medal of the championships in South Korea.
Kiplagat, who won last year’s New York marathon, collided with Cherop at a water stop but recovered quickly to ease to victory a comfortable 17 seconds ahead of Jeptoo (2:29:00) and 31sec clear of Cherop (2:29:14)
“Representing my country in the world championships, I’m very happy because I didn’t know I was going to be the winner,” said mother-of-two Kiplagat, who is coached by her husband.
“When I fell down I tried to run and pick up my form as much as I could and so when I ran one kilometre I found I’m picking up again so I tried to run my best.”
Cherop said after Kiplagat’s tumble she slowed down to wait for her team-mate to check if she was okay and words were exchanged between the Kenyans.
Silver medallist Jeptoo said: “When she fell down I felt very bitter and I went to her. She told us to give her a few minutes to recover and after one kilometre she recovered and she was even stronger than before the fall.
“At that point I knew she was going to win gold. We are very happy, especially for her to have won gold after falling down.”
Kiplagat, a police officer, said her strategy to run the second half of the race faster than the first had paid off although her time was much slower than her personal best of 2:20:46 set at this year’s London marathon, where she finished third.
Jeptoo, who said the humid conditions were tough, said the Kenyans used teamwork on the city streets of Daegu to achieve the medals sweep, the first in the marathon at a world championships for men or women.
“We talked to each other and we decided to go, not to retreat again,” she said, adding: “We were ready to fight for our country.”
In a cagey race under cloudy skies with temperatures in the mid-20s Celsius, nobody was willing to take a risk and strike out alone in the early stages.
Even at the 25km mark of the course along a largely flat circuit through wide city streets, the leading pack of 26 runners were separated by just two seconds, with Jeptoo marginally in front.
But shortly before the two-hour mark a group of four runners broke away including the three medallists.
And the Kenyans then made their move, pulling away to establish a clear lead before Kiplagat struck out on her own.
The marathon course is divided into two laps of a 15km course and one lap of 12.195km through Daegu, South Korea’s fourth largest city with a population of more than 2.5 million.