Michael Shelley and Johannes Helalia win dramatic and memorable marathon races at the Gold Coast Games on the final day, A View from Kenya


Michael Shelley was the silver medalist in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. In Glasgow, Michael came back in 2014 and took gold in the Commonwealth Games. HIs second win, in the Gold Coast, was quite dramatic and Justin Lagat writes about that amazing race. A terribly hot day, and many on twitter was asking why the LOC had picked such late times in the day for the marathon runs, knowing weather is hot at that time of day and year. Johannes Helalia from Namibia is first athlete from her country to take a gold in the Commonwealth Games marathon.

Shelly_Michael-Berlin15.jpgMichael Shelley, photo by PhotoRun.net

Michael Shelley and Johannes Helalia win dramatic and memorable marathon races at the Gold Coast Games on the final day.

The marathon on the final day of the Games in Gold Coast was perhaps one of the toughest races ever watched in the recent past.

By just looking at the spectators lining the road and how they were dressed, one could tell that the weather was warm. The temperatures were definitely high, given that the women crossed 5km in 19:24, 10km in 37:28 and yet just nine athletes were already remaining in the pack as they approached the 15km point. Only one Kenyan, Sheila Jerotich remained in the leading pack of five after crossing the 15km point in 55:45. Controlling the pace were Lisa weightman and Jessica Trengove of Australia. At 20km mark two runners had already reattached themselves to the leading group again increasing the pack to seven.

Three runners suddenly pulled away at the half way point; Trengove, Jerotich and Johannes. However, Weightman was able to fight her way back and got reattached to the leading group again before Kenya's Jerotich took to the front after the 25km point and there was a single file. The pace was soon slowed down again as they approached the 30km mark as Johannes and Jerotich are ran side by side with the two Australians following each of them, the pack appearing more like four oxen ploughing in a farm.

It was going to be painful for one of the four women in the leading pack that was going to fail to get a medal having come all that way together. Jerotich made a brief push after 35km, but the group reattached again and she suddenly faltered as Johannes took to the front and increased the pace. At the 40km mark which she crossed in 2:25.12, 19 seconds ahead of Trengove, Yohannes looked to be safely going home with the gold medal and a major victory in her career.

Johannes Helalia of Namibia finished quite strongly in 2:32.40 despite the warm weather to make history at the Gold Coast Games as the first ever women from Namibia to win the marathon title. Australia's Lisa weightman (2:33.23) and Jessica Trengove (2:34.09) took second and third respectively.

A group of eight athletes began to detach themselves from the rest of the field in the men's race at around the 10km point; two Kenyans were still there. Liam Adams of Australia had been doing much of the pacing taking them through 10km in 32:08 and 15km in 48:22. Callum Hawkins of Scotland began pushing the pace around the 20km point taking them through the half marathon in 1:07.44 and the field began to stretch. It was soon down to five in the leading pack.

In a solo run at the front, Hawkins was already 1 minute and 42 seconds ahead of Australia's Michael Shelley who was in the second place at the moment. Tsepo Mathibelle of Lesotho stopped momentarily after 35km, tried to run again and then pulled out of the race completely as Uganda's Solomon Mutai passed by him to occupy the bronze position.

The worst then happened at the front. Hawkins started staggering at the front. He fell down at around the 39km mark, got up and continued running but could only crossed the 40km mark in 2:07.09 before he fell down and could not get up again. Shelly passed by him as he was on the ground with medical staff monitoring him closely. There was a huge crowd support for Shelley in the last two kilometers of the race. A fan gave him their national flag with less than 100m to the finish line as he went to cross the line in 2:16.46. Mutai came second in 2:19.02 while Robble Simpson of Scotland took third in 2:19.36.

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