There is a changing air in elite women’s marathoning.
While the World record, in this writer’s mind, is not up for discussion by any current marathoners, the quality of racing and the tactics are tougher than ever before.
Consider, for example, the battle for the streets of Frankfurt today…which was won by Aberu Kebede, who did it in grand style, and as the old US TV commercial said, ” she earned it….”
Aberu Kebede, winning 2014 BMW Frankfurt Marathon, photo by PhotoRun.net
Aberu Kebede knows one speed: all out.
That grinding pace where one red lines, or keeps the pace so dangerously close to being over board that one is steps away from success, or failure.
Aberu Kebede, 2012 BMW Berlin Marathon, photo by PhotoRun.net
Aberu Kebede should never be discounted: In her debut back in 2010 in Berlin, the 28 year old Ethiopian marathon star ran 2:23.58. In 2012, again, at Berlin, Aberu ran her current PB of 2:20.30, for her second win in Berlin. In 2013 Aberu went 3-3, with her win in Shanghai, with a time of 2:23.38.
2014 has been a fine year for Aberu Kebede.
She opened at the RAK Half Marathon, a race so fast, so quick that 1:09.22 gave her eighth! Two months later, in London, Aberu ran 2:23.21 for fifth in the swift field of what David Bedford, elite London coordinator always notes as the “finest marathon in the world”.
At the RNR Philly Half marathon, in the first event that the Competitor group, under new and enthusiastic management proclaimed as a salute to the fast and fit, Aberu Kebede ran a swift 1:08:41. (Deena Kastor ran a World masters best of 1:09:36 for third there!).
Aberu Kebede’s fine half marathon in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly love, put a large smile on the face of Competitor VP Tracy Sundlun (who, for the sake of clarity, did have a leg in the former world record for the Swedish relay, way back in 1977), and elite consultant Matt Turnbull.
Aberu was ready for BMW Frankfurt.
Sharon Cherop would also be racing in Frankfurt. Sharon Cherop is one tough marathoner. She opened in Boston in 2013, with a third in 2:27.01. That fall, in Berlin, Sharon took second in 2:22:28. 2014 opened with an eighth place in Boston, in 2:23:00, and her tune up for Frankfurt was a 1:08.51 half marathon in Rome.
Watching Sharon Cherop, one has to consider that this athlete is someone who wills her body each step of the way, all 26.2 miles. When I first watched her race in Boston in 2013, I noted that she looked like she was all out from the first step in 2013.
The truth is, most of the elite women are pushing it from step one. The Boston race in April 2014 can attest to that, as does the Berlin marathon in September 2014.
The battle for the streets of Frankfurt, the financial capital of Germany, was no different.
Meselech Melkamu, the course record holder in Frankfurt, returned to the course at the last minute. When Meselech debuted here in 2012, she ran 2:21.01. Such was that time and such was the speed and depth in women’s marathoning, that her time was pretty impressive.
Since Frankfurt, Meselech has raced, but the medals won in World Cross Country and on the track at World Champs over the 10,000m and 5,000m distances are not the same in the marathon. Since Frankfurt 2012, Meselech has finished fifth in London in 2013 in 2:25.46, second in Dubai in 2014 in 2:25.23, and fifth in Boston in 2:21.28, her second best.
Meselech Melkamu was training for Dubai in January, but somehow, decided to make a hasty decision and race here. It would prove to not be a good decision.
The women’s race was on course record pace from the start: 16:40 for 5k, 33:37 for 10k and 50:23 for 15k. At this time, it was Aberu Kebede, Meselech Melkamu and Sharon Cherop up front and churning out a 2:21-2:22 pace.
None of them looked relaxed, and the pace, in the high humidity and cool weather took its toll. Kebede, Cherop and Melkamu started to churn up the streets, hitting the halfway in 1:10:35, but that was as close as Cherop and Melkamu got to Kebede.
Aberu Kebede gives Meselech Melkamu the good bye move, Frankfurt 2014, photo by PhotoRun.net
Aberu Kebede had a grimace on her face from the halfway, that did not leave her face until the finish. By 25 kilometers in 1:23:21, Kebede had six seconds on Cherop and eight seconds on Melkamu.
Aberu Kebede was relentless. Kebede hit 30k in 1:39.50, Cherop was at 1:40:04 and Melkamu was at 1:41:14. For Melkamu, the party was over. She would not finish.
Aberu Kebede persisted up front, hitting 40k in 2:14.23, with a 59 second lead over Cherop and a two minute, fifty second lead over Bekere.
Aberu Kebede finished the race as she had run, with a grimace, in 2:22.21. Sharon Cherop was second in 2:23:44 and Ashete Bekere was third in 2:24.59, a personal best by nearly four minutes.
“This was a happy day for me, but it was a hard race, ” noted Aberu Kebede.
Sharon Cherop agreed. ” I found it really tough and when Aberu moved away, I had no answer.”
Emma Stepto, 44 and from Great B
ritain, was the first European in 2:32.40, a personal best (she ran 2:36:40 in London this past year).
Mona Stockhecke, 2014 BMW Frankfurt Marathon,
photo by PhotoRun.net
On the women’s side for the Germans, Mona Stockhecke, who recently won Zurich Marathon in 2:34.04, scored her fifth personal best in a row over the marathon, finishing eighth here in 2:33:40! American Adriane Nelson was ninth in 2:32.40!
The women’s race in Frankfurt continues to show the depth of talent from Ethiopia, Kenya and the promise of athletes from Europe and North America. For women, the level of marathoning continues to improve and grow.
2014 BMW Frankfurt Marathon, top ten women, 1.Aberu Kebede, ETH, 2:22.22, 2. Sharon Cherop, KEN, 2:23.44, 3. Ashete Bekere, ETH, 2:24.59, 4. Emily Ngetich, KEN, 2:25.14, 5. Helen Jelegat Kiprop, KEN, 2:27:14, 6. Winny Jepkorir, KEN, 2:29.05, 7. Emma Stepto,GBR, 2:32.40, 8. Mona Stockhede, GER, 2:33.40, 9. Adriane Nelson, USA, 2:33.54, 10. Hayley Munn, GBR, 2:37.44, #frankfurtmarathon