DAEGU, South Korea, Apr 2- Abraham Kiptum and Janet Rono may have had the fastest personal bests of the respective men’s and women’s fields at the Daegu International Marathon, but their victories at the IAAF Silver Label road race on Sunday didn’t come easy.
The Kenyan duo took the top honours with Kiptum chopping 22 seconds off the course record and Rono securing her first marathon victory since 2014.
In the men’s race, the nine leading athletes were still together as they reached 15 kilometres in 44:08 – just a shade outside 2:04 marathon pace – having passed five kilometres in 14:50 and 10 kilometres in 29:28.
Ethiopia’s Weldu Negash Gebretsadik was the first of those to fade and he trailed the remaining eight leaders by 15 seconds at 20 kilometres, which was passed in 59:16.
With the pace gradually dropping as the race went on, the lead pack stuck together for another 10 kilometres before it started to fragment.
Kenya’s Mike Boit, Jacob Kendagor and Reuben Kerio dropped off the pack, as did Morocco’s El Mahjoub Dazza. At 35 kilometres – reached in 1:44:31, 2:06:00 pace – just Kiptum, Evans Korir and Peter Some were left at the head of the field with compatriot Elisha Rotich following some 23 seconds adrift.
With a few kilometres left, Kiptum started to open up a gap on his fellow Kenyans. Korir looked to have settled for third place, but caught Some in the closing stages. He couldn’t quite catch Kiptum, who went on to win in a course record of 2:06:29.
Korir crossed the line six seconds later with a PB of 2:06:35, while Some took third place in 2:06:49, the second-fastest time of his career. All three men finished inside the previous course record of 2:06:51, set in 2014 by Yemane Tsegay.
Rotich held on for fourth place in 2:07:50 and Dazza crossed the line in fifth place in 2:08:33 on what was his marathon debut.
Although the course record was never under threat in the women’s race, Janet Rono’s victory was a decisive one.
As she reached half way in 1:13:11, she had just three other women for company: Korea’s Ahn Seul-Ki, defending champion Pamela Rotich of Kenya and compatriot Winnie Jepkorir, last year’s runner-up.
Rono reached 30 kilometres in 1:44:08 and the lead quartet was starting to get strung out with Rotich and Jepkorir struggling to keep up.
Over the course of the following five kilometres, Rono built up a 15-second lead over Ahn with Rotich and Jepkorir falling even further behind.
Rono maintained her advantage until the end, winning in 2:28:01. Ahn settled for second place but was rewarded with a big PB of 2:28:17, almost four minutes quicker than her previous best.
Rotich and Jepkorir were locked in their own battle for third place during the closing stages. Jepkorir was ahead with seven kilometres remaining before Rotich went ahead of her rival. Jepkorir finished strongly but couldn’t quite close the gap on Rotich, who took third place in 2:28:45.
1 Abraham Kiptum (KEN) 2:06:29
2 Evans Korir (KEN) 2:06:35
3 Peter Some (KEN) 2:06:49
4 Elisha Rotich (KEN) 2:07:50
5 El Mahjoub Dazza (MAR) 2:08:33
1 Janet Rono (KEN) 2:28:01
2 Ahn Seul-Ki (KOR) 2:28:17
3 Pamela Rotich (KEN) 2:28:45
4 Winnie Jepkorir (KEN) 2:28:49
5 Soud Kanbouchia (MAR) 2:31:53