by Brett Larner
Despite gusty winds and intermittent rain the Haspa Hamburg Marathon saw fast times all around, particularly on the men's side where Ethiopian-born Shumi Dechasa (Bahrain) negative-splitted a PB 2:06:44 for the win over pre-race favorite Eric Ndiema (Kenya). Through halfway in 1:03:32, Dechasa and Ndiema were alone and side-by-side by 35 km before Dechasa threw down and opened a 17-second gap for the win. First-timer Philemon Rono (Kenya) was another 7 seconds back in 2:07:08, a solid debut to get onto the podium.
Further back, Japan's Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), appearing with support from JRN, ran a rare time trial performance, sticking close to dedicated pacer Wilfred Kigen (Kenya) on track to just break 2:09 in a bid both to deal with the jet lag issues that have so far troubled his international racing and, if successful, to surpass national record holder Toshinari Takaoka and become the first Japanese man to clear 2:10 seven times in his career. Kigen took Kawauchi through halfway on-track in 1:04:23 before faltering slightly after 25 km, his average pace dropping from the targeted 3:03~3:04/km to 3:10 but going well beyond his promised 30 km to 35 km.
With his departure Kawauchi, looking uncharacteristically relaxed and comfortable, took things down to 2:58/km, guaranteeing himself to clear his target time and cutting up the distance to a line of stragglers from the lead pack ahead. With a 6:45 from 40 km to the finish Kawauchi had the fastest closing split in the field, 3 seconds better than winner Dechasa. Kawauchi crossed the line in 9th in 2:09:36, his fastest time in Europe or North America by three minutes and, coming at the end of a four-week streak that saw him set course records at the Saga Sakura Marathon and Tokushima Marathon, cementing his place in the history books as the first Japanese man with seven sub-2:10 marathons to his name. He also achieved a minor secondary goal, tying legend Takeshi Soh's Japanese record of 34 career sub-2:20 marathons.
"I'm very, very happy with 2:09:36," he told reporters post-race. "Up to now I've never been able to run the way I wanted in European or North American races, but I set myself a goal here and cleared it easily. It gives me a lot of confidence to have overcome the jet lag issue like this. I know 2:09 is not that big a deal by world standards but this gives me a lot of confidence to go after something more ambitious like 2:06 and 2:07 when I race here in the future. If I come back to Hamburg I'll definitely go with the lead pack!"
"I'd also like to say a special thanks to Wilfred Kigen for his pacing. I only expected him to go to 30 km so I'm very grateful that he stayed with me to 35 km. Without him there for those 5 km I don't know if I would have been able to get this result today. Thank you, Wilfred."
In the women's race, 2:21 runner Georgina Rono (Kenya) did the expected, outclassing the field for the win in 2:26:47. Leading a pack of six at halfway, Rono waited until 30 km to make her move. Putting down a hard surge, by 35 km she was 24 seconds ahead of the debuting Winny Jepkorir (Kenya) and her top rival, Ethiopia Dinknesh Mekash. Rono's lead only grew over the final stretch of the race, but Mekash made it a quality race for 2nd as she overtook and dropped Jepkorir for 2nd. Mekash crossed the finish line 42 seconds back from Rono in 2:27:29, Jepkorir another 28 seconds back just under the 2:28 line in 2:27:57.
29th Hamburg Marathon
Hamburg, Germany, 5/4/14
click here for complete results
1. Shumi Dechasa (Bahrain) - 2:06:44 - PB
2. Eric Ndiema (Kenya) - 2:07:01
3. Philemon Rono (Kenya) - 2:07:08 - debut
4. Belay Asefa (Ethiopia) - 2:07:11 - PB
5. Laban Korir (Kenya) - 2:08:05
6. John Mwangangi (Kenya) - 2:08:06 - PB
7. Felix Keny (Kenya) - 2:09:04
8. Lucas Rotich (Kenya) - 2:09:22 - debut
9. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:09:36
10. Bonsa Dida (Ethiopia) - 2:12:33 - debut
1. Georgina Rono (Kenya) - 2:26:47
2. Dinknesh Mekash (Ethiopia) - 2:27:29
3. Winny Jepkorir (Kenya) - 2:27:57 - debut
4. Melkam Gizaw (Ethiopia) - 2:28:14
5. Yinli He (China) - 2:28:56
6. Filomena Costa (Portugal) - 2:31:08 - PB
7. Chao Yue (China) - 2:31:10
8. Mercy Kibarus (Kenya) - 2:31:42
9. Katharina Heinig (Germany) - 2:33:56 - PB
10. Dorothy Peixoto (Portugal) - 2:36:51 - debut
(c) 2014 Brett Larner
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