Titus Ekiru and Judith Korir claimed a double Kenyan win the third edition of the Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon, a World Athletics elite label road race on a very hot day.
World seasonal leader Titus Ekiru crossed the finish-line in 2:06:13 in the men’s race.
Ekiru and his compatriot Reuben Kipyego set the early pace leading a group of eight runners. After the 15 km mark the last of three pacemakers decided to drop off.
Ekiru stepped up the pace and clocked 14:17 in the 5 km split between the 15 km and the 20 km and 14:27 between 20 and 25 km. Ekiru, who won the Milano Marathon last May in a world leading time of 2:02:57, reached the halfway mark in 1:01:46. Only Kipyego was able to keep up with Ekiru.
Ekiru increased his lead to 100 metres over Kipyego, who dropped down at 30 km, but remained in second place ahead of Victor Kipchirchir and Alphonce Simbu.
Ekiru slowed down his pace in the final kilometres, but he held on to win the race.
“The course was flat and fast as we expected. The weather remained fine throughout the race. I didn’t get the time that I wanted but I am very satisfied with the result. The win was the most important today. That was the plan when I discussed the race strategy with my manager. I hope to be back next year and then we will see if I can do it better, hopefully”, said Ekiru.
Simbu overtook Kipyego to finish runner-up in 2:07:50 ahead of 2019 Abu Dhabi Marathon winner Reuben Kipyego (2:08:25), two-time Abel Kirui (2:08:46) and Felix Kimutai (2:10:46).
Judith Korir Jeptum took the honours in the women’s race in 2:22:30. Asian record holder Eunice Chumba from Barhein, who was competing for the third time in her career in Abu Dhabi, had to settle with second place with 2:26:01 ahead of Uganda’s Immaculate Chemutai (2:28:30) and Ethiopia’s Abebech Bekele (2:29:43).
Just five runners remained in the lead with the pacemaker after the 10 km mark, that they reached in 33:24. The leading pack was whittled down to just three runners at the halfway: Judith Korir Jeptum, Wude Yimer from Ethiopia and Eunice Chumba. They reached the 21 km mark in 1:10:27.
Jeptum broke away at 30 km and increased her pace, as Yimer and Chumba slowed down their pace.
The Kenyan runner improved her previous PB from 2:26:52 to 2:22:30 despite a slow pace in the final 7 km.
Top results men
1. Titus Ekiru (KEN) - 2:06:13
2. Alphonce Felix Simbu - 2:07:50
3. Reuben Kiprop Kipyego (KEN) - 2:08:25
4. Abel Kirui (KEN) - 2:08:46
5. Felix Kimutai (KEN) - 2:10:48
Top results women
1. Judith Jeptum Korir (KEN) - 2:22:30
2. Eunice Chebichii Chumba (BRN) - 2:26:01
3. Immaculate Chemutai (UGA) - 2:28:30
4. Abebech Afework Bekele (ETH) - 2:29:43
5. Aleksandra Morozova (RUS) - 2:33:01