In one of the finest lines from British literature, “it was a cold and blustery day” as A.A. Milne begins an adventure of a certian stuffed animal.
This time, the line is used to describe an actual cold and blustery day in Frankfurt, Germany, the sporting capital of Deutschland.
Shura Tola, photo by PhotoRun.net
The weather was cool, about 47 degrees Fahrenheit, with wind in runner’s faces for 27 kilometers, and again after 37 kilometers. How challenging was it? Well, Ryan Hall, the American who has run 2:04:58 for the marathon, and who, retired, now coaches his wife, Sara Hall, told me that he was almost knocked off his bike the winds were so difficult. “If you were not in a pack, you were not going to run well.” noted Victah Sailer, noted photographer, who was on a motorcyle on course, taking photographs for races around the world.
The lead pack hit 14:46 for 5k, 29:31 for 10k, 44:03 for 15k and 59:07 for 20k, hitting the half marathon in 1:02:30, thirty seconds faster than Christoph Kopp, elite race coordinator, instructed the pace makers to run. Martin Kosgey, Mark Korir, were joined by Kelkile Gezahegn, Getu Feleke, and Shura Tola.
The pace, again, was fast on this blustery day, but the runners were full of heart. Kosgey, KOrir, Gezahegn, Feleke and Tola were all together through 30k. 25k was hit in 1:14:27, 30k in 1:29:42, and defending champion, Mark Korir began to fall back (he would finish tenth in 2:12:37). After 32k, Tola, Feleke and Gezahegn dropped Kosgey, who would finish fourth in 2:09:39.
Dewi Griffiths, photo by PhotoRun.net
The battle for the top positions was between three runners from Ethiopia. Shura Tola knew he would win. ” I expected to win from the beginning, and at 30 kilometers, I was sure I would win. My preparation had gone very well, better than for Rome Marathon this April, which I won. I did all the training for Frankfurt with Lelisa Desisa in and around Addis Ababa.” noted Shura Tola after the race.
Shura Tola busted his move between 35k and 40k, putting 30 seconds on Kelkile Gezahegn, with a 14:46 5k. Then, Shura Tola put on the real hurt, running the last 2.2k in 6:43, adding another 36 seconds to his lead.
Kelkile Gezahegn was second in 2:06:56 and Getu Feleke was third in 2:07:46. Martin Kosgey was fifth in 2:09:39.
In fifth through seventh were the Europeans.
Dewi Griffiths, in his debut at the marathon, ran 2:09:49. Continuing the tradition of fine runners who are farmers (remember Jim Easker from Wisconsin in the 1980s?), Dewi Griffiths ran a blistering 25-35k, breaking open Henryk Szost and Arne Gabius. Griffiths ran his debut, three weeks after a 61 minute half marathon. Arne Gabius, who had spotted Griffiths 69 seconds, made up one minute between 35k and 42k, with a very sore hamstring, and passed Poland’s Szost. Gabius ran 2:09:59 for sixth with Henry Szost in 2:10:08, a fine three European marathoners! After the race, Henryk Szost told me that his hamstrings had been tight for the last 14k, probably due to wind and cold.
Arne Gabius, photo by PhotoRun.net
Next were the Americans Scott Smith, who was 8th in 2:12:21, a huge PB from his 2:14:40, and, per his coach, Ben Rosario, well deserved. In 9th was Scott Fauble, in his debut, running 2:12:35. In tenth place was Mark Korir, last year’s winner, in 2:12:37. In 12th place, Matt Llano, who has spent a year rehabbing a torn abductor, ran 2:13:42, not too far off his 2:12:08 PB.
The Americans: Scott Smith, Scott Fauble and Matt Llanoe (Matt’s in back, Scott F has no beard), photo by PhotoRun.net
When I interviewed Christoph Kopp, Frankfurt elite coordinator, I asked him for his top three revelations at Frankfurty today: 1. Mens fast time in winning, Christoph was very happy with that in inclement weather. 2. Katherine Heinig winning German title on 30 year anniversary of her mother, Katrin Dorre, winning Frankfurt. 3. American performances on men’s and women’s sides.
The 2017 Frankfurt Marathon had 26,500 participants over the weekend, 14,500 in the marathon on Sunday. Each has a different story to tell. And at the very end, Shura Tola and Vivian Cheruiyot were in the Festehalle to meet tihe final finisher of the marathon.
And, we think, despite a cold and blustery day, that finish was quite good!
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