RAK Half Marathon: One Men's WR tied, One broken en route! Makau and Tune Win in Fastest Times in World, Plus Womens Junior WR over HM by Larry Eder, plus official release and results


Deriba Merga, the 2009 Chevron Houston Marathon winner, took off like a man possessed-hitting 13:41 for 5k, 27;42 for 10k. Merga surged once again, pushing Patrick Makau further back, but Makau would have none of it. Deriba Merga hit the 15k in 41:29, (equaling the world record from 2001), but that was going to be the last song for Mr. Merga. Patrick Makau went by after 18k, as Merga began to slow.

Makau went by, building a lead over the last 3k, hitting the 20k mark a remarkable ten seconds faster than the previous world record! Patrick Makau hit 55:38 for 20 kilometers, demolishing the former record of Haile Gebrselassie (55:48, set in 2006), en route to his RAK half marathon win in 58:52-the fastest time of the year! The big if today was, what if the wind had not played such a factor, would the RAK Half Marathon had its dreamed of world record? Could be!

Photo courtesy of Photo Run. net

With a four together at 15k, hit in 47:53, Dire Tune, Aselefech Mergia, Abebu Gelan and Phils Ongori were together. Running the last 5k in 15:49, Dire Tune cruised to a 1:07:18, her pb by four minutes! Abebu Gelan, finishing in fourth, set a new World Junior women's record for the half marathon with her 1:07:57!

RECORDS LITERALLY BLOWN AWAY AT RAK HALF MARATHON Fabulous racing but strong winds deny history being made Ras Al Khaimah FEBRUARY 20TH 2009:

For the third consecutive year, a series of astoundingly fast performances from the emerging Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) have forced their way to the top of the world half marathon rankings, with a world record and world bests en route, only denied by unseasonably strong winds off the Arabian Gulf.

Packed elite fields on this pancake flat course promised great things, but ultimately a strong pre-dawn wind refused to abate and while brave running in both men's and women's races produced breathtakingly quick times, both sets of results significantly adjusting the all-time lists, the hoped-for records remained just out of reach.

Deriba Merga had spoken bullishly on the eve of the race of attacking Samuel Wanjiru's world record mark of 58:33 (Den Haag, 17 Mar 2007), despite less than five weeks previously having won the Houston Marathon in 2:07:52. Initially he was as good as his word, passing 5km in 13:41 and 10km in 27:42 with a headwind worsening the effects of a slightly over-ambitious opening 5km. The 10km point signaled for Merga another aggressive surge and over the following three miles he began to open a slight gap on Makau. While Makau fought his way back to the Ethiopian three times, it looked all over, but that Houston run might have been the undoing for the 2008 joint fastest over 21.1km, for with a second blast of headwind between 16km and 18km, Merga began to slow. Makau, ever the instinctive racer, took his chance and eased past, piling on the pressure over the last 3km to such effect that Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich, never far adrift, passed Merga as well to grab second.

Storming home in 58:52, the crowds around the finish were left wondering what might have been, had the wind eased. Kipsang was seven seconds down in 58:59 and a tired looking Merga loped home in 59:18; he probably needs a rest but says he plans to run Boston in just a few weeks time.

When thinking of the last two years in RAK, the women's race looked all too familiar early on, with a slow opening 5km of 16:12 holding a pack of fifteen athletes together. A marginal acceleration up to 10km (32:14) whittled the pack down to ten, but it was after this that they started really running. Flying through the next 5km in 15:39, an Ethiopian quartet of Dire Tune, Aselefech Mergia and Abebu Gelan, along with last year's world leader Philes Ongori, pulled clear and the split times started to turn an ordinary looking tempo in to something very special (15km in 47:53).

A final 5km of 15:49, complete with that two kilometres in to the wind, took Dire Tune clear and she held her pace well, crossing the line in 1:07:18, a personal best by almost four minutes, the last 1,097m having taken just 3:36. Mergia took second a full 30 seconds behind, although she too was 29 seconds faster than ever before, while Ongori in third also broached new territory with 1:07:50, another personal best, this time by 7 seconds.

Dire Tune winning RAK.

Five men broke the one hour barrier, while ten women broke 70 minutes – further testament to the quality of the field and general organisation of the event. The athletes leave RAK well satisfied with their work, knowing too that had the wind been kinder, world records might well have been much closer, if not surpassed.

Deriba Merga missed Haile Gebrselassie's 2005 world best for 15km by just seven seconds (41:29 to 41:22) while Patrick Makau roared past 20km in 55:38, against Wanjiru's 55:31 during his world record for the half marathon. On top of this, John Kunkeler the course measurer,20noted that during the race, the leading men ran further than they needed to, shunning the measured line of tangent and losing cumulatively, vital seconds. A blue line might be on order for next year.

Crown Prince Qasimi with RAK champions Makau and Tune, photo courtesy of PhotoRun.net.

Men's Results
1 Patrick Makau (KEN) 58:52 PB
2 Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich (KEN) 58:59 PB
3 Deribe Merga (ETH) 59:18
4 Wilson Chebet (KEN) 59:32 PB
5 Matthew Koech (KEN) 59:54 PB
6 Joseph Maregu (KEN) 1:00:02
7 Charles Munyeki (KEN) 1:00:11
8 Tujuba Megersa (ETH) 1:00:16 PB (Debut)
9 Chele Dechasa (ETH) 1:00:19 PB
10 Abel Kirui (KEN) 1:00:27
Women's Results
1 Dire Tune (ETH) 1:07:18 PB / NR
2 Aselefech Mergia (ETH) 1:07:48 PB
3 Philes Ongori (KEN) 1:07:50 PB
4 Abebu Gelan (ETH) 1:07:57 PB
5 Lydia Cheromei (KEN) 1:08:14 PB
6 Amane Gobena (ETH) 1:08:16
7 Salina Kosgei (KEN) 1:09:06
8 Rose Kosgei (KEN) 1:09:14 PB
9 Teyiba Erkesso (ETH) 1:09:37 PB
10 Julia Mumbi Muraga (KEN) 1:09:40 < /tr>

The RAK Half Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label status race and is presented by Saqr Port and supported by TNT, Saucony, Isostar, Al Ain Mineral Water and The Cove Rotana. To know more about the race visit www.rakmarathon.org. The RAK Half Marathon, February 20th 2009 is the world's richest half marathon.

For more on the sport, click on http://www.runningnetwork.com

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