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Kenyans rule Prague Half Marathon

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Joan Melly winning the Prague half marathon (organisers) © Copyright

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7 – Kenya’s Joan Melly won the Prague Half Marathon on Saturday after clocking 1:05:04 in the Czech capital to highlight the 20th running of this IAAF Gold Label road race.

On a tear from the outset, Melly passed the opening five kilometres in 14:51, reached 10k in 30:14 and 15 in 45:54, an ambitious pace that came back to haunt the 27-year-old Kenyan in the waning stages.

Her performance nonetheless elevated her to the No. 4 position all-time with the fifth fastest run.

“The first five kilometres were exceptionally fast with us running it in under 15 minutes, but I didn’t look at my watch at all, I just followed the pacemakers,” said Melly, who set her previous lifetime best of 1:05:37 at the RAK Half in Ras Al Khaimah in February, where she finished fourth.

“I felt my strength wane a bit towards the end, but it was still enough to break a new personal best and secure a win. I’m incredibly happy I managed to do it in Prague and would like to thank everyone who helped me achieve this result.”

Her compatriot Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui was second in 1:06:09 followed by Worknesh Degefa from Ethiopia, the runner-up last year and winner in 2015, who clocked 1:08:10.

Further back, Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová finished eighth in 1:11:01 to clip one second from the Czech national record set by Alena Peterkova nearly 24 years ago.

“If you’d asked me before the race, I’d never have believed I was capable of such a result, it’s absolutely amazing,” said Vrabcová-Nývltová , who was assisted throughout by pacesetter Emmanuel Biwott. Vrabcová-Nývltová’s previous lifetime best of 1:11:06 also came on the streets of Prague in the 2016 edition.

 -Kenya’s Kimeli ruled the men’s race-

Benard Kimeli triumphs at Prague half marathon (organisers) © Copyright

In the men’s race, Benard Kimeli broke from a three-man pack in the final kilometre to claim an emphatic victory in 59:47.

“I won the 10-kilometre Birell Prague Grand Prix last year, and now can add the half marathon to that,” said Kimeli, who dipped under the one-hour barrier in just his second race over the distance.

He finished eighth in Ras Al Khaimah in February, clocking 1:00:16. He clocked 27:10 in that Prague 10km last year, the fastest performance in the world in 2017.

“Prague really suits me and I race well here. The conditions went in our favour today and I’m really pleased that I managed to win.”

Geoffrey Yegon was second in 59:56 with Peter Kwemoi third in 59:58 to round out the Kenyan podium sweep. Spots four through nine also were claimed by Kenyan runners.

Leading results: 

MEN –

  1. Benard Kimeli, KEN, 59:47
  2. Geoffrey Yegon, KEN, 59:56
  3. Peter Kwemoi, KEN, 59:58
  4. Abel Kipchumba, KEN, 1:00:05
  5. Shadrack Kiplagat, KEN, 1:00:06
  6. Abraham Kapsis Kipyatich, KEN, 1:00:08
  7. Justus Kangogo, KEN, 1:00:24
  8. Joshat Kimutai Tanui, KEN, 1:01:14
  9. Edmond Kipngetich, KEN, 1:01:19
  10. Eyob Faniel, ITA, 1:02:27

WOMEN –

  1. Joan Melly, KEN, 1:05:04
  2. Caaroline Chepkoech Kipkirui, KEN, 1:06:09
  3. Worknesh Degefa, ETH, 1:08:10
  4. Risper Chebet, KEN, 1:09:25
  5. Antonina Kwambai, KEN, 1:09:48
  6. Flomena Chepchirchir, KEN, 1:09:52
  7. Gladys Kimaina, KEN, 1:10:40
  8. Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová, CZE, 1:11:01
  9. Sviatlana Kudzelich, BLR, 1:11:45
  10. Catherine Bertone, ITA, 1:13:51
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