Tight Finish at RAS Half Marathon, by Pat Butcher


Our fearless, ever traveling marathon junkie, Pat Butcher, once again graces us with his take on the RAS half marathon. Two close finishes, some surprises and among them, a sad result for Million Wolde...

Ras Al Khaimah, Friday, February 8, 0900gmt

It needed two photo-finishes to separate seven athletes and more than
justified the money spent on the world richest half-marathon, with
Patrick Makau and Salina Kosgei snatching victory by the slightest of
margins in the Ras Al Khaimah half-marathon early Friday morning. There
were no half-measures about the prize though, the Kenyans collecting
$25,000 each for victory.

It was less than 15 years ago that the first sub-one hour half marathon
was run, Moses Tanui clocking 59.47 in the Stramilano race in April
1993. His young compatriot, Makau has now done it five times in 12
months, the first one coming when he finished second here in the
inaugural race a year ago.

There were still ten men in contention at halfway, but that quickly
reduced to five when Makau went to the front at 14 kilometres. The 21
year old Ethiopian debutant, Tsegaye Kebede took up the relay three
kilometres later, and he and Makau went away from the others, swapping
the lead through the last two kilometres. Makau had the edge in the
final straight, and repulsed Kebede’s sprint to prevail in 59.35, with
the Ethiopian clocking the same time.

“I thought I could win from about 18 kilometres,” said Makau, “but he
was very strong. He helped me get away from the others, but then he was
hitting me with his elbow, I had to tell to stop”. Since Makau is a
good head higher than Kebede, the tiny Ethiopian quickly acceded.

In the three years since Makau began running seriously, he has
established himself as one of the world’s leaders at the half-marathon,
underlining that with victory in Berlin nine months ago in his fastest
yet, 58.56, and then finishing second in the world championships last

Dickson Marwa of Tanzania had his best race ever, coming from behind to
beat his more famous colleague, former world half-marathon champion
Fabiano Joseph for third in 59.52. But Joseph was rewarded with his
first sub-60 clocking, 59.56.

But Sydney Olympic 5000 metres champion, Million Wolde’s attempt to
make a comeback came to grief. The Ethiopian finished nursing the right
leg which has caused him so much trouble over the last five years, and
it looks as if it would take a miracle for him to get back to anything
like his former self. He finished behind the leading group of women in

The women’s finish was even closer than the men’s, with the leading
trio crossing the line abreast, and the next pair just two seconds
down. But ultimate winner, Kosgei owes her victory to the lethargy of
her rivals. The veteran Kosgei, a former 800 metres runner turned
marathoner, had been dropped off the pack by 14k, but so gentle was the
ensuing pace that she was able to claw back the deficit. She then
dredged up some of that 800 metres speed from her memory bank, to
outsprint her more fancied colleague, Pamela Chepchumba, and the
Ethiopian Atsede Habtamu. All three were give the same time, 72.27, the
pedestrian early pace contributing to the relatively slow time, but
also to the much-appreciated frantic finish.


Place bib name country time prize/US$
1 2 Patrick MAKAU KEN 59.35 25,000
2 9 Tsegaye KEBEDE ETH 59.35 15,000
3 8 Dickson MARWA TAN 59.52 10,000
4 6 Fabiano JOSEPH TAN 59.56 6,000
5 15 Mekubo MOGUSO KEN 60.35 5,000
6 14 Matthew KOECH KEN 60.59 3,000
7 13 Kiplimo KIMUTAI KEN 61.00 1,500
8 5 Dieudonné DISI RWA 61.07
9 7 Tewodros SHIFERAW/ETH 62.09
10 4 Paul KOSGEI KEN 62.17


1 33 Salina KOSGEI KEN 72.27 25,000
2 23 Pamela CHEPCHUMBA/KEN 72.27 15,000
3 22 Arsede HABTAMU ETH 72.27 10,000
4 24 Alice TIMBILIL KEN 72.29 6,000
5 32 Helalia JOHANNES NAM 72.29 5,000
6 34 Helena KIPROP KEN 72.33 3,000
7 25 Deriba ALEMU ETH 72.36 1,500
8 27 Nataliya BERKUT UKR 72.42
9 31 Atsede BAYSA ETH 75.12
10 21 Inga ABITOVA RUS 75.42

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