Ndereba Gets Her 2nd World's Marathon Title (Race Results Weekly Recap)
By David Monti
(c) 2007 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(02-Sep) -- Facing reporters in a muggy post-race press conference
beneath Nagai Stadium, Catherine Ndereba kept one bad of ice pressed to
her head, while she shifted two more between her cramping feet.
Although she had just become the only woman to win a second world
championships title in the marathon, reclaiming the title she lost to
Paula Radcliffe in Helsinki in 2005, she simply looked like any working
mother who had just finished a tough day at the office and had a
"This marathon was one of the hardest in my running
career," said the 35 year-old Kenyan shaking her head. "The weather
was a challenge and everybody was competing well."
a four-time Boston Marathon champion, competed best of all. Running
most of the race well off the lead, and not joining the lead pack until
after 25 km, the Olympic silver medalist waited until the 30°C (86°F)
heat had softened up her key rivals, Zhou Chunxia and Zhu Xiaolin of
China, Reiko Tosa of Japan and her Kenyan compatriot Rita Jeptoo.
was amazed to see at the 39 kilometer mark we were more than three
runners," said Ndereba who was part of a lead pack of eight at 35-K.
"I couldn't even think how I was going to get the gold medal. Thank
God after 40 kilometers I had something."
By the 40-K mark only
Zhou remained for her a serious concern. The 29 year-old who had so
handily won last April's Flora London Marathon in a world-leading
2:20:38, now found herself out of fuel as Ndereba launched her final
push for victory. The Kenyan entered the stadium well clear of Zhou,
and became the oldest (and slowest) marathon world champion ever in
2:30:37, with Zhou winning China's first-ever marathon medal at a world
championships seven seconds behind.
That Ndereba had won on the
very same course at the Osaka International Ladies Marathon in January,
2006, counted for little, the athlete said. "I guess the Osaka
marathon in the summer and the winter are two different things," she
said suddenly becoming animated. "In January I raced the whole time
with my gloves on and something under my singlet. Today, I would run
naked if I could do it!"
suffered a scare at the 35 km fluid station when Jeptoo reached for her
bottle and knocked both hers and Ndereba's off the table. Instantly
assessing the situation, Ndereba decided it was prudent to go back for
the bottle. She had to squeeze between two tables and go around the
inside towards the curb to fetch it.
"At 35 km water it was kind
of a disaster," she said. "One of my colleagues missed her bottle. I
noticed very quickly. I decided just to collect it."
Ndereba and Zhou were battling for the title, a different sort of drama
was playing out for the bronze medal. On the last day of these
championships, Japan's final chance to win a medal in any event was now
resting on the narrow shoulders of Tosa. She was visibly suffering, her
mouth agape and sweat pouring off of her body. At 40-K she was two
seconds behind Zhu and appeared to be out of medal contention after
leading the race through 35 km. The crowds lining the streets were
cheering for her madly.
"The last five kilometers I thought was
a very crucial moment," she said through an interpreter. "I thought
that was the starting point and I pushed very hard. I thought I was
likely to get the medal so I pushed it very hard."
Her left leg
still hurting from a bruise sustained in a fall while training for this
race in China, Tosa found the strength to leave the 23 year-old Zhu
before entering Nagai Stadium. In one of the most emotional moments of
these championships, Tosa emerged from the tunnel and hit the track in
sole possession of third place. The crowd roared in approval and Tosa
crossed the finish line in 2:30:55 to take the bronze medal 26 seconds
clear of Zhu. She immediately began to cry tears of both agony and joy
and she limped away from the finish line.
"I think the cheering
to me was so great I felt I was very lucky that this championship was
hosted by Japan," she said. "I really feel that all the support on the
course made the medal."
resurgent Lidia Simon of Romania, a three-time world championships
medalist, finished fifth in 2:31:26. Japan's Kiyoko Shimahara was
sixth (2:31:40) and Jeptoo, who ran most of the race at the front,
finished seventh (2:32:02).
In the Marathon World Cup team
competition, Kenya repeated as champions in seven hours, 35 minutes and
two seconds, 50 seconds ahead of second place China. Japan, who was
hoping to win the team title, finished third in 7:37:39.
a tough day for the United States who have been enjoying a successful
meet in the sprints. The top American finisher was Ann Alyanak of
Bellbrook, Ohio, who finished 31st in 2:42:23. Zoila Gomez of Alamosa,
Colo., was 35th in 2:44:49 and Dana Coons of Charlottesville, Va., was
38th in 2:46:12. The Americans finished sixth out of seven teams in
the World Cup.
In all, 67 women from 32 nations started the
race, and a surprisingly small sum of nine failed to finish. The final
finisher was 32 year-old Melissa Henderson of Belize. Stiff-legged,
she shuffled around the track for the final 300m and was warmly
applauded by the fans. As she finished in 3:52:35, neary one hour and
22 minutes behind Ndereba, she raised her arms as if in victory.
Perhaps, for her, it was.
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