With Thursday's Diamond League meet making for a busy weekend for race organizers, Stockholm Marathon saw Ethiopia's Sahlesilassie Nigussie break the three year old course record and had a near miss on scoring its first-ever Japanese winner in the year of Idaten.
Running on 2:08 pace in a pack of five until the long climb and descent of the Vasterbron bridge, Nigussie broke away on the flatter section into downtown after the bridge and strode on unchallenged to win in 2:10:10, 48 seconds under the old record. Tafese Delegen was next in 2:11:40 to make it an Ethiopian 1-2, with Kenya's Gilbert Yego 3rd in 2:11:58.
In the women's race a lead group of six including last year's local winner Mikaela Larsson, Ethiopian Aberash Fayesa, Japan's Yoshiko Sakamoto and three other Swedish runners stayed together until almost 20 km. Running with support from JRN in her first serious marathon outside Japan, Haruka Yamaguchi was 30 seconds back in 7th when Fayesa made a long surge to drop the competition. By halfway Fayesa had a lead of 11 seconds, 35 seconds up on Yamaguchi and stretching that to 58 by 30 km over the toughest hills on the course.
But having run steady splits up tot hat point Yamaguchi turned it on, quickly moving up through the field to and overtaking defending champ Larsson a few steps before 30 km to move into 2nd. Whether tired or banking on having enough of a margin to win Fayesa began to slow, while behind her Yamaguchi turned in her fastest 5 km splits of the race to cut the lead down.
Running 17:43 from 35 km to 40 km, her first time ever running under 18 minutes in a marathon, just before 39 km Yamaguchi made contact. With a male runner behind her Fayesa didn't seem to hear Yamaguchi come up on her, and when Yamaguchi made a move to the front Fayesa was visibly surprised. But not willing to let the race go so easily she turned on a long surge that dropped Yamaguchi with ease, splitting a solid 7:28 from 40 km to the finish to win in 2:33:38. Yamaguchi clocked 7:47, her fastest-ever closing split, for 2nd in 2:34:04, the fastest time ever by a Japanese woman on Swedish soil by nearly 5 minutes.
Larsson was 3rd in 2:36:32, leading Swedish women to take 3rd through 7th. 5th in Stockholm two year ago, Sakamoto faded late in the race after volunteers holding elite athletes' drink bottles missed handing off to her at three stations in a row, ultimately finishing 10th in 2:44:30.
Stockholm MarathonStockholm, Sweden, 6/1/19
1. Aberash Fayesa (Ethiopia) - 2:33:38
2. Haruka Yamaguchi (Japan/AC Kita) - 2:34:04
3. Mikaela Larsson (Sweden) - 2:36:32
4. Johanna Backlund (Sweden) - 2:39:08
5. Hanna Lindholm (Sweden) - 2:41:31
10. Yoshiko Sakamoto (Japan/F.O.R.) - 2:44:30
1. Sahlesilassie Nigussie (Ethiopia) - 2:10:10 - CR
2. Tafese Delegen (Ethiopia) - 2:11:40
3. Gilbert Yegon (Kenya) - 2:11:58
4. Matthew Kipsaat (Kenya) - 2:12:47
5. Shadrack Kipkosgey (Kenya) - 2:13:44
© 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved