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Dennis Kimetto among contenders for 2014 AIMS Best Marathon Runner Awards

The worldwide marathon community will celebrate a special race weekend in Athens in November. A gala featuring the 2014 AIMS Best Marathon Runner (BMR) Awards and other honours will take place on 7th November, two days before the Athens Marathon, which was renamed earlier this year to emphasise its unique historic background.

The race is now called “Athens Marathon. The Authentic”. The Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) has announced that Dennis Kimetto, who broke the world marathon record in Berlin at the end of September, will be the sole candidate for the AIMS Male BMR Award.

As far as the women are concerned, the contest remains open with two candidates for the AIMS Female BMR Award: Rita Jeptoo and Florence Kiplagat.

A year ago the inaugural Gala proved to be a great success with around 600 guests present in Athens. The ceremony was shown live on TV by the new state broadcaster, now called NERIT, and received worldwide media attention. On the second weekend of November the stage will again belong to marathon running. Organisers from 60 international races and more than 200 media people have already confirmed their participation in the events.

AIMS and the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS), the organiser of the Authentic Marathon combined to create the inaugural Gala in 2013, thus giving the sport of marathon running a fresh platform with greater international profile. Athens was the natural choice of venue, given its place in marathon history.

This is where it all began in 490 BCE with the story of the Athenian soldier-messenger, who is said to have run from Marathon to Athens, bearing news of victory against the invading Persians, but collapsed and died on arrival.

At the first Olympics in Athens in 1896 the route the brave Athenian soldier was said to have taken was used for the marathon. The name of the event comes from the village where today’s Athens Marathon is started and where the Olympic races in 2004 began as well: Marathon.

In the relevant period for the AIMS Best Marathon Runner Awards, which goes from 1st October 2013 to 30th September 2014, one athlete has been dominant in the men’s competition: Dennis Kimetto.

The Kenyan won the Chicago-Marathon in 2013 with a course record of 2:03:45 and then broke the next marathon barrier in last month’s Berlin Marathon, where he clocked a world record of 2:02:57. After the first sub 2:03 marathon ever Kimetto became the outstanding candidate for the 2014 AIMS BMR Award.

It is different with the women, where AIMS has announced two contenders: Rita Jeptoo and fellow-Kenyan Florence Kiplagat. Jeptoo won the Chicago Marathon 2013 and the Boston Marathon 2014, setting a course record of 2:18:57 in Boston. Kiplagat was second in the highly competitive London Marathon last April. Before that she ran a World Half Marathon record of 65:12 in the Barcelona Half Marathon in February.

Besides the Best Marathon Runner (BMR) Awards, AIMS will again present three special awards for marathon organizers or persons from around the world, the Green, Social and Lifetime Achievement Awards. The winner of this year’s Green Award has already been announced: Germany’s BMW Frankfurt Marathon.

The day following the gala, 60 race directors have already confirmed their participation in the 8th AIMS Marathon Symposium, which has the topic “Adding Value to Your Race”. Along with various local and international dignitaries they are then invited to attend the Opening Ceremony of the “Athens Marathon.

The Authentic” at the Marathon Tomb that is situated a few kilometres away from the start of the race and marks the mass grave of the Greek soldiers who died in the battle in 490 BCE. A torch of the so-called Marathon Flame will be ignited and then carried by relay runners to the starting point of the Athens Marathon. There the Marathon Flame will burn in a cauldron during race weekend.

On 9th of November, organisers of the Authentic Marathon expect a record number of around 13,000 runners to take on the classic route from Marathon to the Panathenaikon Stadium. More than 40.000 spectators are expected to come to the historic arena to cheer on the runners for their glorious finish. Adding other running events at shorter distances the total number of athletes is expected to rise to 35,000 for the first time.

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World Record Holder Dennis Kimetto: Photo by www.photorun.net

Dennis Kimetto promises to dominate for a long time

World Record Holder Dennis Kimetto warns rivals to expect another decade of his marathon virtuosity.

Barely eight hours after he had taken the marathon into a new territory with his 2:02:57 to win the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON on Sunday, Dennis lounged back in his chair after his evening meal and before the post-race party, reflecting on how far he had come and the road ahead.

The BMW BERLIN-MARATHON is an IAAF Gold Label race and part of the World Marathon Majors Series.

The bad news for his rivals is that the man who first burst on the international scene in 2012 is confident that, at the age of 30, he can have at least another five years at the top level. Then he thought again.

“Actually, I think I could still be a very good runner ten years from now, at 40,”said Kimetto, a quiet smile indicating this was no joke.

Sitting alongside his friend and fellow runner Wilfred Kigen, Kimetto had time to reveal more of himself.

What appears at first and, especially to non-Swahili speakers, as the epitome of shyness, is a man with inner steel, a determination fired by both the memory of seeing the great duels of Paul Tergat versus Haile Gebrselassie on television and of a childhood where money was scarce.

“We didn’t have television or radio at home, so at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney I went to the community centre in the village and watched. The memory of Haile versus Tergat in the 10,000m inspired me. I thought, perhaps I could run at that level?” wondered the new world record holder in the marathon.

The journey has not been easy, even by the standards of a boy growing up in a family of four brothers and three sisters and parents who were subsistence farmers near Kapngetuny.

For much of his childhood, Dennis had to work on the small landholding rather than attend school. However, when he decided in 2008 to devote time to running, his parents gave him their full support.

“My father said, train as well as you can and go for it, you can change your life”, said Kimetto, looking back on six years which have transformed not only his life but that of his family, thanks to his earnings from running.

Destiny played a hand. Training near his home one day, he met what had become a familiar sight to young Kimetto: the group led by Geoffrey Mutai whose camp was nearby. Mutai invited him to join their run that day, liked the look of his stride and said, why not join us full time?

The move paid off as Kimetto won eleven domestic races in 2010, including the Nairobi Half Marathon, clocking 61:30 but at altitude which made the performance worth a significantly faster time.

Yet the distance running world wasn’t prepared for what happened at the prestigious Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates in February 2012.

“I stood on the start line and looked around. I felt scared, seeing runners like Wilson Kipsang alongside me. Nobody knew who I was,” said Kimetto, who went on to astound athletics cognoscenti by beating the illustrious field in 60:40.

He broke the hour for the first time in his next race at the distance with 59:14 in Berlin just six weeks after Ras Al Khaimah.

A world record over the rarely run distance of 25km followed five weeks later in what was fast becoming a home from home: Berlin.

His marathon debut was sensational, finishing barely a stride behind Geoffrey Mutai in what still is a world record marathon debut of 2:04:16 in Berlin in 2012.

With every race he seemed to become yet more formidable. In his Chicago debut last October he broke the course record with 2:03:45, having won Tokyo earlier in 2013 with another course best.

The first glitch came when he dropped out of Boston this April with a hamstring injury but Kimetto proved a quick healer.

“When I asked his physio back in Kenya how well Dennis had recovered from his injury shortly before Berlin, he said: “Number one. Dennis will be number one, no problem”, said his Dutch manager Gerard van de Veen.

Having become the first man in history to break 2:03 for the marathon and improve Wilson Kipsang’s time by 26 seconds, Kimetto can relax and contemplate the future.

Naturally enough, his opinion whether a sub 2 hour marathon would ever be possible is much in demand.

Allowing for the effects of post-race jubilation and his current level of English, it would be wrong to interpret a nod of the head or a smile as a definite answer either way.

But after Dennis Kimetto’s achievements in an international running career of barely three years, who knows where his limits may be?

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Kimetto_DennisFV-Berlin2014

Dennis Kimetto Breaks Marathon World Record In Berlin

Photo Credit: www.photorun.net

A new chapter in the marathon was opened with a magnificent flourish by Dennis Kimetto in Berlin on Sunday (September 28). In only his fifth race at the distance, the Kenyan smashed the 2:03 barrier a year after his compatriot Wilson Kipsang had brought the world record down to 2:03:23 on the same course.

Kimetto’s is the tenth world record on a course which makes full use of Berlin’s flat terrain and gentle corners. The BMW BERLIN-MARATHON is an IAAF Gold Label race and part of the World Marathon Majors Series.

Emmanuel Mutai finished second in 2:03:13, ten seconds inside the old record while Ethiopia’s Abera Kuma broke through to the marathon elite with third place in a personal best of 2:05:56.

Ethiopia’s Tirfi Tsegaye fulfilled her ambition of ascending to the top place on the podium as the 2012 Berlin runner-up took just over a minute off her personal best to win in 2:20:18, the fastest time in the world this year and nine seconds ahead of her training partner Feyse Tadese. Shalane Flanagan attacked early in the race and led through halfway, on course to break the American record, but faded to finish third in what was nonetheless her fastest ever time of 2:21:14.

Every leading finisher agreed that conditions could hardly have been better for the starting gun to set just over 40,000 on their way from the Avenue of June 17 at 8.45 am. Temperatures rose to around 15 Celsius while the elite were racing on a still and piercingly bright morning.

Men’s Race:

First of the favourites to drop off the pace was Tsegaye Kebede, the current leader in the World Marathon Majors Series. The diminutive Ethiopian was off the pace before 20km. A group of five avowed racers, led by a trio of pacemakers, went through halfway in 61:45, on target for an attack on Wilson Kipsang’s world record of 2:03:23.

The pace had slowed to some 15 seconds outside world record pace but memories were still fresh of how Wilson Kipsang had produced an extraordinary late surge 12 months ago. Dennis Kimetto and Emmanuel Mutai showed they could match that and more, with this year’s World Half Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor keeping them company as the leaders went past Am Wilden Eber, at 28 km, a section of the course where the massed spectators can be guaranteed to boost the adrenaline.

The clock showed 1:36:01 for 33km, right on world record schedule and even better was to follow. Kamworor had to yield to the torrid pace as Kimetto and Mutai ran 2:47 for the next kilometre. The 35km mark is so often critical in the marathon and this race proved no exception. The duo went through in 1:42:36, predicting a sub-2:03 finishing time by a margin of over 30 seconds.

Dennis Kimetto surged with just over 1:50 on the clock, Mutai could offer no response and the Wilson Kipsang’s world mark had a little over ten minutes left in the record books.

Although Kimetto showed signs of strain as he turned through the Brandenburg Gate and strode for the finishing line, he achieved the dream, taking 26 seconds off the world record. This was after having to drop out of the Boston Marathon in April because of a hamstring injury.

“I felt confident of breaking the world record today. During the race I felt good and believe I can improve it further. I’d like to return and try to break it again next year,” reflected Dennis Kimetto, who retained his relaxed composure as the hubbub erupted around him.

Emmanuel Mutai sliced 39 seconds off his best and was also inside the old world mark.

“I’m still happy with my performance. Dennis was just too strong for me after 30km today but I believe I could also break this new world record,” commentated Mutai.

Mutai had the consolation of at least breaking one world record today: he went through 30km in 1:27:37, improving by one second on Patrick Makau’s time in 2011 en route to his world record.

Abera Kuma proved a revelation in finishing third, achieving a massive personal best by almost four minutes. The Ethiopian has distinguished himself on the track, including 5th place in the 10,000m at the 2013 World Championships.

Women’s Race:

For much of the women’s race it seemed as if Shalane Flanagan’s aggressive running would be rewarded by breaking Deena Kastor’s American record of 2:19:36 as well as capturing the Berlin title. She went through halfway in 69:38.

The Ethiopian trio of Tirfi Tsegaye, runner-up in Berlin two years ago, her training partner Feyse Tadese and Abebech Afewok, were 18 seconds adrift. But Tsegaye in particular had made a point before the race of saying she would run at her own pace and see if Flanagan would come back to them. The race ran to that script.

Just before 30km, Flanagan lost the lead as first Tsegaye and then Feyse overhauled the American. Flanagan’s hopes of the American record faded, as did her prospect of becoming the 19th women to break 2:20 in marathon history.

Tirfi Tsegaye went clear to improve her personal best by one minute, one second, setting the fastest time in the world this year with 2:20:18. Feyse Tadese also ran her fastest ever marathon and Shalane Flanagan at least had the consolation of becoming the second fastest US runner ever, having improved her best by four minutes this year with races in Boston and Berlin.

“I have to take stock, assess the race splits and reflect on how I can improve, whether it’s a question of training harder or becoming mentally stronger. I think I need to be stronger over the last 2km, I certainly learned that today,” reflected Shalane Flanagan.

While hopes for a North American record did not materialise there was a South American record in Berlin: Peru’s Ines Melchor clocked 2:26:48 in 8th place. She improved her own mark of 2:28:54 set in the 2012 Olympic Marathon in London.

Leading Men’s Results:
1. Dennis Kimetto KEN 2:02:57 (World Record)
2. Emmanuel Mutai KEN 2:03:13
3. Abera Kuma ETH 2:05:56
4. Geoffrey Kamworor KEN 2:06:39
5. Eliud Kiptanui KEN 2:07:28
6. Frankline Chepkwony KEN 2:07:35
7. Levy Matebo KEN 2:08:33
8. Maswai Kiptanui KEN 2:10:18
9. Tsegaye Kebede ETH 2:10:27
10. Kazuki Tomaru JPN 2:11:25

Leading Women’s Results:
1. Tirfi Tsegaye ETH 2:20:18
2. Feyse Tadese ETH 2:20:27
3. Shalane Flanagan USA 2:21:14
4. Tadelech Bekele ETH 2:23:02
5. Abebech Afework ETH 2:25:02
6. Kayoko Fukushi JPN 2:26:25
7. Anna Hahner GER 2:26:44
8. Ines Melchor PER 2:26:48
9. Rene Kalmer RSA 2:29:27

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Tsegaye Mekonnen

Mekonnen, Feleke chase rare Ethiopian win in BMW Frankfurt Marathon

Kenyan runners have dominated the men’s race of the BMW Frankfurt Marathon for more than a decade. The past twelve champions of Germany’s oldest city marathon have all come from Kenya.

However this win streak will be tested to the limits and it could well be the Ethiopians who finally make the headlines again this autumn. 30 years ago Frankfurt’s sole Ethiopian male winner in the history of the race, Dereje Nedi, ran a course record of 2:11:18.

Back in 1984 this was a first-class performance and a record that stood for 13 years. Organisers today announced that two highly regarded Ethiopians will compete in the BMW Frankfurt Marathon on 26th October: Tsegaye Mekonnen and Getu Feleke. The women’s race will also feature a world-class runner from this country, Aberu Kebede.

Around 15,000 runners are expected to take part in the BMW Frankfurt Marathon with online race entry still available. The 33rd edition of the event is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

It was Tsegaye Mekonnen who stunned the world of road running early in the year, when he smashed the unofficial world junior record in his debut at the distance. Winning the highly competitive Dubai Marathon in January with a time of 2:04:32 he became the eleventh fastest marathon runner ever at the age of just 18.

The way he ran away from top-class contenders in the final stages of the race suggests that there is much more to come from Tsegaye Mekonnen.

“I could have run faster, but all of us in the leading group lost some energy during the first part of the race. This was because the pace changed so often. It seemed that the pacemaker was doing some kind of fartlek,” said Tsegaye Mekonnen who turned 19 in the meantime.

With a more even pace expected in Frankfurt he hopes to break the Ethiopian record of 2:03:59. The current national record holder is superstar Haile Gebrselassie, who Mekonnen describes as his idol.

With a sub 2:04 time targeted the course record of Wilson Kipsang, who ran 2:03:42 in 2011, would be within reach. The Kenyan is also the world record holder with 2:03:23 and the current world leader with 2:04:29 – just three seconds faster than Mekonnen’s time from Dubai.

Such fast times would not deter Getu Feleke. Coming back from health problems which stopped him for almost a year in 2013 he clocked an amazing course record of 2:05:41 in the Vienna City Marathon this April despite some stomach problems.

With this time the 27 year-old is the seventh fastest marathon runner in the world this year. Feleke’s PB stands at 2:04:50. But he hopes for much faster times.

“My dream is to break the world record. I train very hard for this,” said Feleke after his Vienna victory, where he smashed the course record by more than a minute.

Aberu Kebede will be among the favourites when she comes to Frankfurt. There was much more Ethiopian success in the women’s race in the past few years.

In 2012 Meselech Melkamu established the present course record of the BMW Frankfurt Marathon with 2:21:01. The aim is now to push that mark to below 2:20. Kebede has already come very close to that barrier of women’s marathon running.

Just 24 years old she is a two time Berlin Marathon champion and also won major marathons in Rotterdam and Tokyo. Kebede ran her personal best of 2:20:30 in Berlin in 2012 and clocked sub 2:25 times on eight occasions.

Information and online entry is available at: www.bmw-frankfurt-marathon.com. Note: Tsegaye Mekonnen winning the Dubai Marathon in January Photo by: www.photorun.net

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Correti Jepkoech

Birell Prague Grand Prix 10k Report

Geoffrey Ronoh upstages Geoffrey Mutai and breaks course record in Birell  wins women’s title

Geoffrey Ronoh is fast making a reputation as the man to challenge and beat the cream of the distance running world.

The Kenyan countered every move that his compatriot Geoffrey Mutai made to win the Birell Prague Grand Prix in warm, humid conditions on Saturday evening, smashing the course record with 27:28, the second fastest time in the world this year.

Mutai, preparing for the defence of his New York Marathon title in early November, finished four seconds behind in 27:32 and Nicholas Bor was third in 27:38. It was a high quality race in general with six men breaking 28 minutes.

Coretti Jepkoech also ran a course record and a personal best to win the women’s title in 31:05, the second fastest time in the world this year. Her fellow Kenyan Esther Chemtai finished a distant second in 31:51 and Flomena Chepchirchir was third in 32:30, all fine runs in testing conditions.

The Birell Prague Grand Prix is an IAAF Gold Label race, the highest category in road racing.

When the mayor of Prague, Tomas Hudecek, fired the starting gun at 7.30pm to set 5,500 runners on their way from Wenceslas Square, Geoffrey Mutai and Geoffrey Ronoh wasted little time in transforming the race into their own duel. Mutai, the world’s fastest marathon runner, pushed the pace, looking lighter in his stride than the tall Ronoh.

The temperature gauge showed 21 degrees Celsius with humidity at 85 percent but the pair maintained the intense pace, Mutai taking the lead with Ronoh in his tracks as 5 km was passed in 13:19, inside world record pace. Mutai sensed this might take its toll.

“Yes, it was good but the humidity was going up and that made it difficult so when I saw the time, I slowed a little, then we pushed again.”

Ronoh, revealing perhaps inexperience in only his fourth international race, admitted he wasn’t aware that they were on world record schedule.

“It didn’t feel tough, it was excellent pace. Yes, it was humid but I train at midday so am used to it and also to counter-attack.”

His cool calculation worked a treat with 22 minutes on the clock. For the first time the orange vest of Ronoh was in front by a couple of metres and the gap grew as they charged uphill across one of Prague’s many bridges.

The advantage was three seconds and Mutai never looked like closing the deficit.

Ronoh slowed a fraction to celebrate in the home straight but then glanced round and realised that Mutai was still coming. A step on the accelerator and he was across the line, winning his first official 10k in a highly impressive 27:28, the second fastest time in the world this year and a course record by six seconds.

What fresh fields can Geoffrey Ronoh conquer? In response, he gave a diplomatic answer which still served as a warning to every marathon contender. “I’ll shall talk with my manager and follow his advice. I believe that with good training I can beat anyone in any road race and the marathon.”

Running 27:32 for second place was still a fine run in the light of Geoffrey Mutai’s marathon ambitions in New York. Half-an-hour after crossing the line, the sweat was still dripping off his forehead as he reflected.

“To run this time gives me confidence that my training is going well. It’s good to have such a strong athlete to push you.”

Correti Jepkoech didn’t need much pressure from her rivals after she drew away from fellow Kenyan Esther Chemtai over the second half. The 20-year-old ran with impressive style, never faltering as she led the entire race to win in 31:05.

“I had been training well and knew my form was good.”

That brief assessment was spot on. Jepkoech finished 55 seconds inside the course record from the inaugural women’s race last year, set by her stablemate Josephine Chepkoech. The latter went on to win the Usti nad Labem Half Marathon for good measure.

The duo’s manager recommended Correti to the elite race organiser, Jana Moberly, for this year. The next race in the RunCzech series is next weekend, September 14, so history might well be pointing to a double success if Jepkoech slips on her racing shoes next Sunday.

Results with bib numbers:

Men:
1. Geoffrey Ronoh KEN / 10 27:28 pb, course record
2. Geoffrey Mutai KEN / 1 27:32
3. Nicholas Bor KEN / 9 27:38 pb
4. Simon Cheprot KEN / 7 27:41 pb
5. Richard Mengich KEN / 25 27:48
6. Kenneth Kipkemoi KEN / 5 27:56
7. Geoffrey Kusuro KEN / 16 28:13
8 Polat Kemboi Arikan TUR / 3 28:30

Women:
1. Correti Jepkoech KEN / F3 31:05 pb, course record
2. Esther Chemtai KEN / F2 31:51
3. Flomena Chepchirchir KEN / F16 32:30
4. Helah Kiprop KEN / F1 32:33
5. Lucy Liavoga KEN / F9 33:12 pb
6. Natalya Popkova RUS / F5 33:25
7. Jen Rhines USA / F17 33:31

More information about the Birell Prague Grand Prix can be found online: www.runczech.com

Please Note: Photos by Birell Prague Grand Prix.

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