The men’s and women’s elite marathons in London this year were two totally different races! Consistency was the word on women’s side and in the men’s it was a great kick and very fast early pace. Ryan Hall continues to improve-read on!
So, the experts were fooled. All week, the thoughts were, that if the pace went even, it was a Geta Wami race. Well, no one told the German, Irina Mikitenko, who continued her superb running and took the Flora London marathon in 2:24:14, a huge personal best. MIkitenko ran her last tough miles in the rain, but it did not matter, she was on her way to her biggest victory ever! Svetlana Zakharova of Russia held on for second in 2:24:39, again running a very consistent pace and keeping it going after the rain came.
Geta Wami limped in to third, obviously bruised up in her fall about halfway. Wami’s 2:25:37 was a strong performance, considering her race mishaps.
Salina Kosgei of Kenya was the first Kenyan women to finish and this should please her selectors, finishing fourth in 2:26:30.
Ludmila Petrova of Russia was the third woman over 35 in the top five, running 2:26:45 for fith place. Souad Ait Salem of Morocco ran 2:27:41 for sixth place.
Berhane Adere of Ethiopia ran 2:27:42 for seventh place, one second behind Ait Salem.
Constantina Dita of Romania, the nemesis of many marathoners, took eighth place in 2:27:45.
To the delight of the British crowds and to her delight, Liz Yelling, who had run most of the race by herself, ran a superb personal best of 2:28:33 and cemented her selection as the third British women marathoner. Yelling was in no women’s land for much of the race.
In tenth, running a strong race, was Adriana Pirtea of Romania, who ran 2:28:52.
The women’s race was a battle of consistency. While the pace did not seem hard, it built and built and built and Mikitenko pulled away after 35 kilometers, to cement her win. In the end, Mikitenko was tough enough to withstand the pace, and the others, even those with better kicks, were unable to respond. Several things are for sure, on April 13, 2008, Germany’s Irina MIkitenko had an excellent race, a personal best and her biggest win
And now, the men’s race…..the race had progressed through sub 2:03 pace to a strong, course record pace.
It had come down to Martin Lel, Samuel Wanjiru and Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco. Deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra, the baseball communicator would say.
After having run nearly twenty-five miles, Lel, Wanjiru and Goumri hit the 40 kilometers in 1:58:53. The runners were figuring out who had what kick as they came closer and closer to the finish. Martin Lel got out in the middle of the road, and began to kick with about six hundred miles to go, with Samuel Wanjiru in close pursuit. Lel and Wanjiru had dropped
Goumri with five hundred to go.
In all honesty, Martin Lel just took, never to be challenged and kicked like mad over the last five hundred or so meters, with a personal best and course record of 2:05:15, breaking the former record of Khalid Khannouchi. In second, Samuel Wanjiru ran 2:05:24, again, under the old course record and a huge personal best!
Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco took third, running 2:05:30 for third, giving Flora London
three runners in same race under two hours, five minutes.
But that was not all. Emmanuel Mutai Kenya outkicked Ryan Hall of the US, who was running the third marathon of his life with true guts. Mutai ran 2:06:15, his personal best and Ryan Hall ran 2:06:17, a personal best by over two minutes, 17 seconds!
Hall had run a very tough race, improved on his place and time over last year and showed he is the marathoner Americans have wished for a few years.
Deriba Merga of Ethiopia ran 2:06:38 for sixth place, showing that Mr. Merga is on the cusp of a strong marathon career.
So, three under two hours, six and six under two hours, seven minutes, that must be some kind of record?
Yifle Konas of Eritrea was rewarded with his tough running with a seventh place in 2:08:51. Felix LImo recovered some and was eighth in 2:10:34. In eighth place, Aleksey Sokolov of Russia was ninth in 2:11:45 and Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa was tenth in 2:11:44.
The men’s race lived up to all of its expectations. Martin Lel and Samuel Wanijiru had a great battle as did the other marathoners. Ryan Hall is showing that he can now move on and focus on the next goal, Beijing.
As I finish this, and I will follow up this evening with some final thoughts, my thoughts go to the 35,013 starters and their families and friends as the deal with the changing weather and conditions on the course. It is a personal battle and we wish them luck.
Thanks for reading our coverage of the FLORA London Marathon 2008!