Edna Kiplagat, overcoming two falls, some spirited competitors, and 84 percent humidity, lead a Kenyan sweep of the marathon, the first time that any country had swept the marathon before at a World Champs.
Here is how I saw the marathon. Special thanks to the World Marathon Majors for hosting a reception at the start/finish area of the marathon!
2011 World Champs/Daegu, Day 1, Session 1: The Women’s Marathon
Edna Kiplagat, 2011 World Championship Marathon, photo by PhotoRun.net
It was not merely that Edna Kiplagat won the women’s marathon, it was how she did it.
This race was part roller derby, part chess game, as Kiplagat fell not once, but twice in the race, and still mastered the course, the competitors, and most of all, the weather.
The course was in the downtown section of Daegu, and at the start, it was 72 degrees, and 84 percent humidity.
The pack of thirty consisted of all the usual suspects. Bezunsesh Bekele, the recent winner of the 2011 LA Marathon and nine marathons in the U.S. so far in her career.
Priscah Jeptoo, 2011 winner of the Maraton de Paris in 2:22.55. Edna Kiplagat, winner of both 2010 LA Marathon and 2010 ING NYCM Marathon, running her fifth marathon.
The first five kilometers were run in 18:34, a pace that, if kept through the next 37.5 kilometers, would give them a very slow 2:38 time. Bekele, Atsede Baysa, Priscah Jeptoo, Xiaolin Zhu of China, Marisa Barros of Portugal, Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia, Sharon Jemutaie Cherop, winner of the 2010 Toronto Marathon, the long striding Aberu Kebede, Remi Nakazato of Japan, Jiali Wang of Japan, Dire Tune of Ethipia, and Tara Moody of the US.
The humidity was terrible, and it affected everyone. The only thing that did not happen was that the sun would come out and make it absolutely unbearable for the field. But the pace was slow, very slow. Bezunesh Bekele lead at 10k, hit in 36:26. The pack of thirty was now down to 28, but people came and went. Edna Kiplagat was timed in 1:12.43 for the 20 kilometers, the leaders hit 1:12:39, with Jeptoo, Baysa, Mergia, Margarita Plaksina of Russia all up front.
The pack of 31 hit the half way point in 1:16.46, and the pack was just, well way too close, it was surprising that no one had fallen.
The course was not difficult, but, the weather played such a role in this race, that it became a short race to the finish. The pace at mid-way was 2:32, which would have been one of the slowest races in championship history.
In the front pack was five Kenyans, five Chinese, five Ethiopians, a Russian, a Portugese runner and a lone American.
There was a few moves through 25 kilometers, hit in 1:30:36. Jeptoo, Kiplagat, Cherop, Bekele and Aberu Kebede were the players. Tara Moody, the US runner who had run 2:30.58 was running up front most of the race, and she looked very good. The pack, at 25k, was 21 runners, and there continued to be a juggling of the leaders. Edna KIplagat fell just about 25 kilometers, the pack was so close. She was up and in the front pack once again. Marisa Barros of Portugal was up front much of the race, and continued to stay up, with Jeptoo, Kebede, Cherop testing, probing, testing, probing. No one, however, would make a move!
The 30 kilometer point was hit in 1:48:35, and the pack hit a real point of no-return. There were the contenders and the pretenders. The problem really was, that someone, having run such a generous pace so far, would be able to turn the race into a twelve kilometer, or perhaps a five kilometer race. The last five kilometers was run in 17:59, which was one second slower than the previous five kilometers. The projected 2:32:40 pace meant that all twenty-one in the top pack could be in the hunt.
This was not in the plans for Edna Kiplagat, Priscah Jeptoo, Sharaon Jemutai Cherop, Bezunesh Cherop, Yukiko Akaba, Xiaolin Zhu and Abero Kebede. Isabellah Anderson of Sweden was also up in the pack at this time, and she had just flown in from Kenya on Thursday!
Right after 30 kilometers, Edna Kiplagat, she of the amazingly genteel running style, Prischa Jeptoo, who does not seem to hit the ground with her mid foot strike, and Sharon Cherop, who fights the air for every step, took off, with Aberu Kebede and Bezunesh Bekele in tow.
Soon, Bekele dropped off, but Kebede and three Kenyans ran together, and away from the field. Tara Moody, who had bounded up to the front on several occasions was starting to feel the heavy load of the humidity, increased pace and world championship pressure all at once.
At 1:57 into the race, Edna Kiplagat surged and Bekele was done, Cherop and Jeptoo close and Kebede bounding along. And now, there were four….
How would Edna Kiplagat handle this? Priscah Jeptoo looked to be running within herself, and Sharon Cherop, well she looked full of strength. Aberu Kebede, the lone Ethiopian up front, looked very tough.
At two hours, 33 kilometers into the race, Edna Kiplagat is focused, and Jeptoo in second and Cherop churning along. Thirty-five kilometers was hit in 2:05:19, which meant that the previous 5 kilometers was hit in 16:44, the fastest by one minute, in the race so far. And there was seven kilometers to go!
In a championship situation, all mistakes are magnified. In a race where the temperature was going from 72-79 degrees, and the humidty staying a stultifying 84.6 percent, a move done prematurely damned one to a complete collapse or perhaps a lesser medal now.
The four were still there, all together, Kiplagat looking ahead, Jeptoo, catching her breath, Kebede bounding a bit less and Cherop churning along. Kebede began a long drop backwards, and Bizunesh Bekele had willed herself into the race once again, passing Kebede before the 39 kilometer point.
Edna Kiplagat, Priscah Jeptoo, and Sharon Cherop together, running hard, when,they hit a water stop and Cherop cuts off Kiplagat, who falls a second time! This time,Cherop stops and helps Kiplagat back to her feet, and the three runners continue on, running closer and closer to the finish line.
Kiplagat looked to be in some distress, as Cherop took the lead and Jeptoo looked to be fading, when Edna Kiplagat took a deep breath and was off. She continued to push, and push, and by 40 kilometers, passed in 2:21:30, Kiplagat finally had a hard won nine second lead.
Priscah Jeptoo was in second, in 2:21:39 and Sharon Cherop was in third, in 2:21:41.Bezunesh Bekele was in third, in 2:22:06.
Over the last ten minutes of the race, Edna Kiplagat continued to run away from the field, having run the last half marathon in 1:12, but the last 5k was pushed in a stunning 16:11!
Edna Kiplagat grabs the last water bottle and continues on. At the age of 31, Edna Kiplagat was in her fifth marathon, having won NYC and LA, she will have won three of five marathons.
Edna Kiplagat, 2011 WC Marathon, photo by PhotoRun.net
Edna Kiplagat wins the WC marathon in 2:28:43. Priscah Jeptoo is second in 2:29:00, and Sharon Cherop takes the bronze, in 2:29:14, holding off Bezunesh Bekele, who runs 2:29.21 for fourth.
U.S. Tera Moody takes seventeenth in 2:32:04, and nearly collapses at the finish.
Final results will be linked here: http://www.iaaf.org/live/wch11/index.html
I will let K. Ken Nakamura tell us about the records set or made in this event:
It is the first time any nation swept the medal in the marathon, men or women, at the World Championship. In fact, it is the first time any
nation finished first and second in the women’s marathon. &nbs
p;Previously JPN in 1993 finished first and third. On the men’s side ESP in 1997 and KEN in 2009 finished first and second, but again, no nation ever swept the medal in the marathon at the World Championships.
16:11 by Kiplagat from 35Km to 40Km was very fast, but not the fastest in the World Championships history.
Ndereba in 2003 covered 35K to 40Km in 15:58.
7 seconds margin between third and fourth ties smallest ever maragin from 2009.
KEN has won three medals until today, all by Catherine Ndereba. Kiplagat became the second Kenyan to win the medal (and of
course second Kenya to win gold medal) in the world championships marathon.
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