FRANKFURT, October 26- Veteran Mark Kiptoo, 38, proved age is nothing but a number when he scored a huge victory at Sunday’s Frankfurt Marathon edging his much younger rivals for the crown at the relatively flat German course.
In a reversal of fortunes from 12 months ago where he was out-sprinted in the final few hundred metres, Kiptoo had a better turn of speed this time to clinch the win in 2:06:49.
Mike Kigen was second in 2:06:59 and Gilbert Yegon third in 2:07:08 to make it an all-Kenyan men’s podium
A huge leading pack of 14 runners, excluding the appointed pacemakers, went through the halfway point in 1:02:32, which was exactly the scheduled asked by the race organisers.
However, that split doesn’t tell the whole story and there was some very uneven running during the first half of the race, passing 10km in a very quick 29:24 and reaching 15km in 44:13 before slowing down, which clearly had an effect during the second half of the race.
Over the next few kilometres, the pace continued to ease slightly and 30km was reached in 1:29:14 with 12 runners, and two pacemakers, still in the first group at the front.
Between 30km and 35km, several men started to struggle and drift away from the leading group, including 2013 champion Vincent Kipruto, who was to finish a disappointing 13th in 2:12:09, and the highly-rated Ethiopian junior Tsegaye Mekonnen, who dropped out just after 30km.
However, at 35km, which was reached in 1:44:21, there were six men still in contention and clearly there was going to be a thrilling finish whatever figures were on the clock.
Ethiopia’s Deribe Roba was the first to fall back from the leading group and Kenya’s Ronald Korir slipped out of contention at 39km.
Just after 40km, it was the turn of Ethiopia’s Tebalu Zawude to throw in the towel, at least as far as victory was concerned.
Coming into the last kilometre, Kigen and Yegon looked to have opened up a slight gap over the Kenya Defence Forces old hand, but this year the latter was not to be denied and he used his turn of speed that took him to a 5000m best time of 12:53:46 in 2010 to go pass his countrymen and then pull away.
In total, the first six men home finished within 40 seconds of each other: Zawude was fourth with 2:07:10, Robi fifth in 2:07:16 and Korir sixth in 2:07:29.
Sharon Cherop (2:23:44), the 2011 Worlds Bronze medallist and 2012 Boston Marathon champion was beaten to the honours by Ethiopia’s Aberu Kebede who recorded the performance of the event with a brisk 2:22:21 win.