Geoffrey Mutai netted the biggest fish of them all when he became the fifth Kenyan male winner of the Sh42m ($500,000) World Marathon Majors (WMM) series jackpot with victory at Sunday’s Berlin Marathon in a world leading 2:04:15.
However, the bizarre finish to the race where Mutai and training partner Kimetto (2:04:16) ran a stride apart to the tape led to claims that the youngster and marathon first-timer ‘let’ his mentor win.
Sunday’s finish echoed the circumstances of Paul Tergat’s 2.04.55 world record run at the same event in 2003, when training partner Sammy Korir challenged him right to the line but later claims the latter had ‘allowed’ the former to take the glory surfaced although they were not proven.
“I did not watch the race but from what I saw on news clips, it appears like the second runner allowed Mutai to win but congratulations to both,” Athletics Kenya (AK) boss, Isaiah Kiplagat told Capital Sport on Monday.
“It goes to show the talent we have in marathon running if you consider that the top-eight in the men’s race are from Kenya,” he added.
Letsrun.com, the US based online runners forum started their re-cap of the race as thus, “After running stride for stride for 26.2 miles and on world-record pace until the final two miles, Geoffrey Mutai edged training partner Dennis Kimetto to win the 2012 BMW Berlin Marathon in 2:04:15 to Kimetto’s 2:04:16 in a truly bizarre finish.
“The win netted Mutai the 2011-2012 World Marathon Majors title and $500,000 and started the speculation of: ‘Did Kimetto let his training partner Mutai win Berlin?”
Various comments on their official Berlin Marathon thread were highly critical of the finish including a post from Optional Extras that stated,
“There is no doubt about that but that is true for every marathon and you would still expect a fight to the finish. This was clearly one athlete letting the other one win. The least they could have done was pretend to fight it out.
“With drug scandals, etc Athletics takes another dive into the gutter. Would be interesting to see what odds the betting companies were offering.”
However, had Mutai finished runners-up and Boston champion, Wesley Korir, failed to win Chicago, the freshly minted Berlin winner would still have won the WMM.
If Korir won Chicago and Mutai took bridesmaid, the pair would have tied on 65 points needing a tiebreaker that would have favoured the Boston winner since the Berlin winner failed to finish in his defence.
Mutai is set to be officially crowned on November 4 after the end of the New York Marathon following in the footsteps of Robert ‘Cheruiyot’ Mwafrika, Martin Lel, the late Samuel Wanjiru (twice) and Emmanuel Mutai.
Kenyans took the first eight positions in the men’s race.
Lel blazes in scorching Lisbon
Meanwhile, former World Half Marathon titleholder, Lel led a Kenyan top four shut-out to win the Rock ‘N’ Roll Portugal Half Marathon in Lisbon.
The three-time London champion clocked 1:01:28 in a race competed in scorching conditions as countrymen Albert Matebor (1.01.38), Titus Masai (1.01.49) and Cyprian Kotut (1.02.25) trailed him home in that order.
Olympics marathon silver medallist Priscah Jeptoo took the women’s race in 1:10:32 to seal the Kenyan double in the IAAF Gold Label race as Margaret Muriuki (1.11.28) followed the winner to the tape for the 1-2.
Kipyego soars in Delhi
Olympic champion and world record holder, David Rudisha, took up the unusual role of watching from the sidelines as he flagged of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in India.
He must have relished the finish to the men’s race where Edwin Kipyego mastered the blistering conditions best to clinch the race in 1:00:55 as Leonard Langat (1:01:07), Silas Kipruto (1:01:57), Milton Rotich (1:02:01) and Titus Mbishei (1:02:44) finished in that sequence to crown a Kenyan top 5 stroll.
Helah Kirop (1:11:18) was the best placed local runner in the women’s race in third as Ethiopia’s Yimer Yude (1:11:10) took the top honours.