Finishing runner-up a year ago, Robert Kipkemboi came back and won the N Kolay Istanbul Marathon in a thrilling battle: The Kenyan clocked 2:10:18 after dropping Marius Kimutai in the last kilometer of the race during an uphill stretch. The former Kenyan, who competes for Bahrain, took second with 2:10:27. At the same time, Sila Kiptoo followed in third in 2:11:42. With the weather getting sunny and temperatures soaring above 20 Celsius during the second half of the race, hopes for a men’s course best and a Turkish all-comers record melted away. Sechale Dalasa could not keep her fast first-half pace, which pointed towards a 2:20 finish, as well. The Ethiopian, who already won the Rome Marathon this spring, took the race in a personal best of 2:25:54. Fellow Ethiopians Melesech Tsegaye and Ethlemahu Sintayehu, who ran her debut in Istanbul, followed in second and third with times of 2:29:01 and 2:31:38 respectively.
Including running events at shorter distances, the N Kolay Istanbul Marathon registered a total of 60,000 runners, which puts it among the world’s biggest road races this year.
When Istanbul’s mayor Ekrem Imamoglu sent the marathon runners on their way, and they crossed from the Asian side of the city into Europe shortly afterward, weather conditions were still fine with around 14 Celsius and a partly overcast sky. Running a fast 2:07:30 pace for the first 10k (30:14), the big, leading group was well inside the course record and the Turkish all-comers record of 2:09:44 and 2:09:27 respectively, when they passed halfway in 64:32. But then the pace slowed and a 1:32:34 time at 30k pointed towards a 2:10:15 finish. Not only did it become warmer, but the race also turned tactical. Fifteen runners were still in the lead at 30k, and no one wanted to take the initiative. Then, Robert Kipkemboi surged ahead with a little over 5k to go. Only Marius Kimutai, the fastest runner on the start list with his 2:05:47 PB, managed to hold on. But during the final climb into Istanbul’s historic center, Kipkemboi left him behind and secured the biggest win of his career. At 2:10:18 he matched last year’s winning time from Uganda’s Victor Kiplangat.
“It was a good race. The pacemakers did well. I hoped for a course record, but it became humid at around 30k, and then I concentrated on winning,“ said the 34-year-old winner. “Knowing the course from last year when I was second, I knew about the challenging final section, and I adjusted my training to prepare for this climb to the finish.“ Robert Kipkemboi, who ran five seconds quicker in Istanbul than a year ago, thinks he can improve his 2:07:09 personal best in the future. “After a break, I will start preparing for a spring marathon. On a flat course, I think I can run 2:06.“
Sechale Dalasa was the dominant runner in the women’s race. Led by a pacemaker, she was ahead soon after the start. Three other runners followed her ambitious and unexpected 2:20 pace, which led them through 10k in 33:11: Melesech Tsegaye and the two debutants Ethlemahu Sintayehu and Stacy Ndiwa of Kenya. When Sechale Dalasa, who had clocked half a dozen marathon times between 2:26 and 2:28 before and ran a 2:26:09 PB in Rome this March, reached halfway in 70:23, there was only Sintayehu left behind her. Before the 24k mark, the debutant was also dropped, and Dalasa was on her way to another major marathon victory this year. Although she also slowed considerably during the final third of the race, so did the other women behind her. At 30k, the 31-year-old was 25 seconds ahead of Sintayehu with a time of 1:41:07. Five kilometers further down the road, that gap had widened to well over a minute.
With a finishing time of 2:25:54 Sechale Dalasa was finally over three minutes ahead. “I am proud to have won this race, and I am thrilled that I managed to run a personal record,“ said the winner.
Men Top Results
1. Robert Kipkemboi KEN 2:10:18
2. Marius Kimutai BRN 2:10:27
3. Sila Kiptoo KEN 2:11:42
4. Moses Kemei KEN 2:11:55
5. Tadesse Temechachu ETH 2:11:58
6. Hillary Kipchumba KEN 2:12:02
7. Benard Sang KEN 2:12:10
8. Dechasa Alemu ETH 2:12:15
9. Samuel Kosgei KEN 2:12:16
10. Geofrey Kusuro UGA 2:12:16
Women top results
1. Sechale Dalasa ETH 2:25:54
2. Melesech Tsegaye ETH 2:29:01
3. Ethlemahu Sintayehu ETH 2:31:38
4. Stacy Ndiwa KEN 2:31:53
5. Judith Jerubet KEN 2:32:29
6. Marina Hmelevskaya UZB 2:34:07
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