Justin Lagat wrote this piece last week on the fabulous run by Ruth Chepngetich in Instanbul. On a weekend after the NYC Marathon, with the Instanbul, Beirut and Athens marathons all in one weekend, nearly 100,000 marathoners in three events. Ruth Chepngetich’s magnifiscent run was one of the highlights and will keep us wondering how fast women can run the marathon.
Ruth Chepngetich was the clear star of the weekend road racing after running 2:18:35 to win the women’s race at the 2018 Istanbul Marathon. She is now among the ten fastest women in history. Her time, which is equal to the time that Brigid Kosgei ran in Chicago last month, is the tenth fastest time ever run by a woman in history.
Arguably, Chepngetich is now one of the runners that every race director will consider if they are to compile a dream elite start list for their races. I cannot help but fancy a race in which Mary Keitany, Brigid Kosgei, Gladys Cherono and Chepngetich are all on their start list. Just like Keitany and Kosgei, she staged a race that will remain in the minds of those who watched it, for a very long time. She could be seen overtaking most of the men elite runners as the race progressed, and only those who managed to hold on and avoid being overtaken by her were able to finish it the top ten positions as Chengetich came in to finish 11th overall.
Chepngetich finished almost 8 minutes faster than her next competitor, Margaret Agai who came second in 2:25:04 followed by Fatuma Sado in 2:31:04. Chepngetich was already one minute ahead of Agai as she passed the 15km point in 48:15. She reached the halfway in 1:08:22 a time that was projecting a world in a course not known for fast times. One can only wonder how she may have performed on one of the faster courses.
Felix Kimutai won a competitive men’s race in a new course record and fastest time ever run in Turkey of 2:09:57. A leading pack of 18 men crossed the 15km point in 45 minutes, seeming to have regrouped at the 10km point when the pace had slackened a bit after the first nine kilometers had been run in a pace that was projecting a finish time of 2:05. Interesting to note that Chepngetich who was about 3 minutes behind at this point was going to overtake five more men to get into the 11th position in the end!
As they approached the 38km point, Abraham Kiprotich who was the defending champion suddenly increased the pace and the rest soon followed in a single file. Two athletes; Felix Kimutai and Abdi Ibrahim Abdo soon caught up with him at the front. Then, just after the 39km point Felix took his turn to break away and the gap between him and the rest kept increasing till he crossed the finish line in 2:09:57. Abdo followed to take second in 2:10:37 closely followed by Kiprotich in 2:10:55.