Justin Lagat has been writing for RunBlogRun for several years now. His weekly column provides our readers insights into running in Kenya. This column is a fun one, as Daniel Wanjiru surprised many with his win at the TCS Amsterdam marathon.
Daniel Wanjiru, photo by PhotoRun.net
Daniel Wanjiru wins Amsterdam Marathon and sets a new course record
Sunday mornings always find the streets of Eldoret deserted with hardly any vehicles parked beside them, but whenever you see a number of cars parked around some restaurants you should be sure that there is a big marathon taking place somewhere. This Sunday, although not as many as when a major marathon like London, Berlin or New York City, there were cars on the streets and revelers inside the restaurants. It is always fun to watch a marathon in a restaurant with other fans.
I still remember at some point, after the pace makers were out and he was at the front with Sammy Kitwara, Geoffrey Kirui held his drinking bottle for quite a long time. At one point, the group of fans we watched the live TV together got excited and argued whether Kirui was aware he still had the water bottle in his hand or had forgotten. When he finally took one sip and threw the bottle, it was decided that we watch what happens when he picks his drinks again at the next station. It was as if Kitwara and Kirui had been learning from Eliud Kipchoge the art of taking their drinks during marathons, but Kirui was yet to perfect his skills on that.
Few people, if any, had Daniel Wanjiru in their minds as the favorite to win. The favorites were Kitwara, and the other two former winners of this marathon; Wilson Chebet and Bernard Koech.
From the first 5K, Kitwara seemed to be concerned with the time and kept pushing the pace setters. He was clearly aiming for a fast time, and some fans as well were arguing that perhaps he wanted to break away early in the race since he has always not been able to run strongly in the last stages of his past races. As the other athletes stayed patiently behind him, Kitwara was involuntarily turning into one of their pace setters.
Laban Korir was the first to move to the front and increased the pace just after 30K when the pace setters had done their part. But, interestingly, when the rest maintained his pace he was among the first to drop behind.
Soon it was Geoffrey Kirui and Sammy Kitwara at the lead before Wanjiru joined them. Wanjiru stayed closely behind the two before Kitwara pointed to him that he should partake in the pace setting as well. For a while, he did that before lagging slightly behind again then started to follow Kirui.
Kirui was the first to drop behind from the leading pack of three, as Wanjiru and Kitwara ran together for a while before Wanjiru suddenly pulled away with about four kilometers to go and kept increasing the pace. Kitwara apparently had no strength to counter the move.
Wanjiru continued running strongly till he cut the tape in 2:05:21setting a new personal best time from his 2:08:18 and breaking the old course record of 2:05:36 that was set by Wilson Chebet in 2013. Sammy Kitwara followed in 2:05:45 while Marius Kimutai in 2:05:47sealed a clean sweep of podium positions by Kenyan men. The top eight positions all went to Kenyans.