Both course records were broken and a number of Olympic qualifying standards achieved at the 10th METRO GROUP Marathon Duesseldorf. Ethiopia’s Seboka Diriba Tola ran 2:08:27 and improved the two year-old mark by five seconds.
He finished ahead of Duncan Koech (Kenya/2:08:33) and former Kenyan Abraham Kiprotich (France/2:08:35). In contrast the women’s winner caused quite a surprise: Agnes Jeruto (Kenya) ran a great debut in fine weather conditions and finished with 2:25:49.
She improved the course record by 55 seconds. Nastassia Staravoitava (Belarus) finished second with 2:27:24 while Melkam Gisaw (Ethiopia) took third in 2:27:50.
The METRO GROUP Marathon Duesseldorf is an IAAF Bronze Label Race. A total of 14,000 athletes had entered the various events. 4,000 of them participated in the marathon. It was the best quality race in the history of the event with seven men clocking sub 2:11 times and five women running inside 2:30.
In almost ideal weather conditions with temperatures around 15 Celsius at the start, overcast skies and hardly any wind the men’s leading group was on course for a sub 2:08 time.
At the 10k it was 30:21 minutes and the half way mark reached in 64:14 after the pace had slightly slowed. But then the leading group of around a dozen runners picked it up again. Among those runners who were dropped from the first group at this stage was Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi, who got a lot of media attention and drew many Japanese spectators to the course.
He finished eighth with 2:12:58. “It did not work out for me today. The Africans set the pace and it was up and down. But it was a great experience to run here in Duesseldorf and I would like to come back. I will certainly learn from this race and next time I will compete with a better strategy,” said Yuki Kawauchi.
Six runners were still in contention for victory at 30 k (1:31:12): Besides Seboka Diriba Tola, Duncan Koech and Abraham Kiprotich there were Evans Ruto, Abraham Chelanga plus the defending champion Nahashon Kimaiyo (all Kenya). It was Kimaiyo who was dropped first. After Ruto and Chelanga had lost contact as well a tactical race developed around the 35 k mark.
None of the three left in the leading group made a move. The pace dropped and vital seconds for a possible sub 2:08 time were lost. Even the two year-old course record set by Iaroslav Musinschi (Moldova) seemed to slip away, but when Tola finally did take off with one kilometre to go he produced the fastest 1000 metres of the race: After a 2:49 minutes sprint he did break the mark by five seconds with 2:08:27.
Behind Duncan Koech (2:08:33) France‘s Abraham Kiprotich (2:08:35) and fourth placed Marcin Chabowski (Poland/2:10:07) achieved the Olympic qualifying times set by their national federations. Ruto (2:10:10), Kimaiyo (2:10:28) and Chelanga (2:10:40) ran inside 2:11 as well.
“For me today it was all about winning. After I ran my personal best of 2:06:17 in Dubai in January I am happy with today’s victory,” said 24 year-old Tola.
In the women’s race a leading group of six athletes ran together in the first half of the marathon: Pre-race favourite Kebebush Haile Lema and her fellow-Ethiopians Gishu Mindaye, Melkam Gisaw and Fantu Eticha Jimma formed this group together with the Kenyans Agnes Jeruto and Jane Rotich. After they had passed half way in 1:12:25 the group began to break up.
Between 30 and 35 k 29 year-old debutant Agnes Jeruto was on her own. She had indicated that she would go for a 2:25 finish before the race, although her half marathon best is only 1:12:03. She almost broke that PB during the marathon on Sunday.
“It was a great debut for me. I had no problems during the race and the pacemakers guided me well. It was only on the final four kilometres that I slowed a bit,” said Agnes Jeruto.
Second placed Nastassia Staravoitava ran inside the Olympic qualifying time of Belarus with 2:27:24 as did her fellow-countrywoman Volha Dubovskaya who took fourth with 2:28:07. In between them Melkam Gisaw (2:27:50) was third. Fellow Ethiopian Haile Kebebush Lema took fifth place with 2:29:02.
Germany’s Anna Hahner ran a fine marathon debut, but she just missed the national qualifying standard for London by 14 seconds. Clocking 2:30:14 for sixth place, the 22 year-old hopes that selectors might still pick her after a good race.
In contrast there is still no light at the end of the tunnel for the German men. Jan Fitschen dropped out because of muscle problems after 24.5 k so that no German runner will compete in the Olympic men’s marathon once again.To send email correction or further classifications, please shoot us an email at lcummings [at] world-track.org.