BARCELONA, Spain, Feb 10 – Kenya’s Eric Kiptanui beat Ethiopia’s Abebe Dagefa in a sprint finish over the final kilometer to clinch the eDreams Mitja Marato Barcelona Half Marathon title on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s best finisher in the women’s race was Sally Chepyego who came in third behind the Ethiopian duo of 21-year old Roza Dereje and Dibabe Kuma.
The men’s race didn’t feature pacemakers so the usual fight against the clock and hunt for a quick time never materialised.
The pedestrian pace led the leaders through the opening five kilometres in 15:03.
It was then that Sweden’s debutant Napoleon Solomon, an 8:23.54 3000m steeplechase specialist, took charge of the race, upping the pace to reach 10 kilometres in 29:26, accompanied by the Kenyan triumvirate of Kiptanui, Jonathan Korir and Meshack Koech.
The Ethiopian pair of Degefa and Betesfa Getahun and Ugandan Moses Kurong followed suite. The latter dropped back from the main group shortly afterwards, eliminating his chance of reaching the podium again after finishing third last year.
The remaining sextet went through 15 kilometres in 43:52 after another 14:26 five kilometres split, with Solomon doing most of pacing.
Shortly before the 20-kilometres (58:16) point Degefa and Getahun, upping the tempo, moved to the front. From then on they increased their speed but Kiptanui remained on their shoulders.
The 28-year-old Kenyan has clocked 3:37 over 1500m at the high altitude of Nairobi, and used that speed to overtake the Ethiopians in the closing metres to romp home in 1:01:44, after covering the final kilometre in 2:30.
Degefa was runner-up one second back with Getahun rounding out the podium another two seconds in arrears.
1 Erick Kiptanui (KEN) 1:01:04
2 Abebe Degefa (ETH) 1:01:05
3 Betesfa Getahun (ETH) 1:01:07
4 Jonathan Korir (KEN) 1:01:10
5 Napoleon Solomon (SWE) 1:01:17
1 Roza Dereje (ETH) 1:06:01
2 Dibaba Kuma (ETH) 1:06:45
3 Sally Chepyego (KEN) 1:08:30
4 Lucy Cheruiyot (KEN) 1:08:32