by Brett Larner
The Great North Run celebrated three-part history Sunday, with the great Mary Keitany breaking marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe's course record and Mo Farah bringing home the first British men's win in 29 years to set the stage for the millionth finisher in GNR history, the first race in the world to hit that mark.
In beautiful conditions with a comfortable tailwind heavy favorite Keitany soloed the race the entire way on track for Radcliffe's 1:05:40 record, only appearing to falter near the end. Bearing down in the home straight she looked to hit the line dead on, but when official results were posted it was announced that she had made it by a second with a new record of 1:05:39. Nearly a kilometer back, the U.K.'s Gemma Steel was shockingly strong, going head-to-head with London Olympics gold medalist Tiki Gelana, Commonwealth Games silver medalist Caroline Kilel and two-time World Championships gold medalist Edna Kiplagat before dropping them all to beat her legal course best by over two minutes for 2nd in 1:08:13. Gelana took 3rd in 1:08:45 with Kilel, Kiplagat and Polline Wanjiku spread out over the two minutes behind her.
Former Ritsumeikan University captain Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido) ran close behind the lead pack through the first half of the race before falling off, taking 7th in 1:11:11. In her international debut Haruna Takada (Team Yamada Denki) ran much of the way against the U.K.'s Charlotte Purdue and Susan Partridge, finishing 9th not far off her PB in 1:12:20.
The men's race saw a large lead pack led by the field's two fastest men, Mike Kigen and Farah, run through the first mile before splintering. On the Tyne Bridge the pack split again, with a small group consisting of Brazil's Paulo Paula and Japanese runners Keisuke Tanaka (Team Fujitsu), Takamitsu Hashimoto (Team Komori Corp.) and Sho Matsueda (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) peeling off the back. Japan's top man Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) was the next to lose contact at 3 km, followed shortly by British Euro medalist Andy Vernon to leave a pack of seven going through 5 km in 14:04, 59:21 pace through the toughest part of the course.
Kigen's relentless frontrunning was too much for Ayeko, who fell back from the lead in the second half and ultimately dropped to 5th. Farah lost ground more than once, but with his untouchable-except-by-Ethiopians last kick in store he never got far enough out first to be in real danger of losing. Doing the Mobot just before the line he crossed in 1:00:00 to renew the Great North Run's British legacy. Closer than Farah may have realized as he showboated, Kigen also clocked 1:00:00 for 2nd. Kiprotich, only a 1:01:15 runner, hung on for 3rd in 1:01:35 just ahead of Bekele who was clearly suffering after arriving near midnight the night before the race due to a flight delay.
Prague Grand Prix 10 km together a day earlier in over 30 minutes.
2014 Great North Run
Newcastle-South Shields, U.K., 9/7/14
click here for complete results
1. Mary Keitany (Kenya) - 1:05:39 - CR
2. Gemma Steel (Great Britain) - 1:08:13
3. Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) - 108:45
4. Caroline Kilel (Kenya) - 1:09:10
5. Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 1:10:37
6. Polline Wanjiku (Kenya) - 1:10:46
7. Risa Takenaka (Japan/Team Shiseido) - 1:11:11
8. Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain) - 1:11:43
9. Haruna Takada (Japan/Yamada Denki) - 1:12:20
10. Susan Partridge (Great Britain) - 1:12:28
1. Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 1:00:00
2. Mike Kigen (Kenya) - 1:00:00
3. Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) - 1:01:35
4. Tariku Bekele (Ethiopia) - 1:01:39
5. Thomas Ayeko (Uganda) - 1:02:13
6. Andy Vernon (Great Britain) - 1:02:46
7. Hiroaki Sano (Japan/Team Honda) - 1:03:01
8. Paulo Paula (Brazil) - 1:03:58
9. Jonny Hay (Great Britain) - 1:04:09
10. Masato Kikuchi (Japan/Team Konica Minolta) - 1:04:18
13. Keisuke Tanaka (Japan/Team Fujitsu) - 1:05:11
14. Takamitsu Hashimoto (Japan/Team Komori Corporation) - 1:05:24
17. Sho Matsueda (Japan/Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 1:05:55
text and photos (c) 2014 Brett Larner
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