Beijing Stories: Helah Kiprop wins a Silver medal behind Mare Dibaba in Beijing, A view from Kenya, by Justin Lagat

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DibabaLedsKiprop-Kirwa-Worlds15.jpgThe battle for the Marathon: Kiprop, Dibaba, Kirwa, photo by PhotoRun.net

The marathon was an intruiging race. A race developed naturally, and it got faster and faster until five, then four, then, three on the track...and the finish was great for TV and the sport!

Here is Justin Lagat's piece on Helah Kiprop and her silver medal for Kenya.

Helah Kiprop wins a Silver medal behind Mare Dibaba in Beijing
The women marathon race developed into a great climax with four athletes as contenders for the title with only about 500m to the finish. Eunice Kirwa of Bahrain was the first to sprint, but soon got run down by Mare Dibaba and Helah Kiprop as they entered into the stadium. Kiprop tried again to overtake Dibaba in the last few meters, but the latter had a stronger finishing kick as she crossed the line in 2:27:35, one second ahead of Kiprop. Kirwa came in third to win the bronze medal in 2:27:39.
The 10km point that was crossed in 35.32, all the Kenyans were still there inside a leading pack of 18 athletes. Only one athlete would drop from this pack, Bahrain's Dula, at 15km, crossed at 53.21.
Three Japanese athletes were still doing the pacing as they had been doing for the better part of the first half. Kenya's Visiline Jepkesho joined the three Japanese momentarily at the front as they approached 20km and took the role of a pace setter too. The 20km point was crossed in 1:11.19.
Temperatures were a bit cooler today than it was during the men's race. There was cloud cover all through the first half of the race and there was no need for the runners to run under the shadows of the evergreen trees along the Beijing streets, which could be very uncomfortable while running a marathon.
The time was 1:15:16 at half way point and there was still a large pack of about 17 athletes. Some sunshine then began to come through the clouds soon after. But it did not seem to stay shining for long as shadows disappeared again.
Shigetomo of Japan, with a small white scarf around her neck and dark sun-glasses, led the pack through 25km in 1:29:16. The pace seemed to be increased here a bit as many athletes started to disintegrate from the pack. It quickly came down to 12 athletes remaining in the pack. One Kenyan was part of the casualties; Jepkesho dropped off here.
1:46.51 was the time at 30km with Shigetomo still leading. Ednah Kiplagat began to step at the front for the first time too, moved back and chatted with her compatriots and soon they were all at the front and the pack started to disintegrate again to only six athletes on the lead as the three surged ahead.
In 2:04:05 at 35km, Mare Dibaba was leading, Jemimah Sumgong, Eunice Kirwa, Helah Kiprop, Ednah Kiplagat and Tingist Tufa were still right there.
Tufa was the first to drop off soon after the 35km point leaving the leading pack down to five athletes.
At about 40km the defending champion, Edna Kiplagat, was detached from the leading group too and only four athletes remained as the contenders for the medals. Only one of them was going to miss a medal.
Dibaba won the gold, the silver went to Kiprop and Kirwa took the bronze medal.

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