Records Galore In The Volkswagen Prague Marathon
KIPTANUI SMASHES MENS‘ RECORD – 2:05:39 * KIROP SMASHES WOMENS’ RECORD – 2:25:29
Prague, May 9th, 2010: After a build up to race day, the likes of which have never been seen before in Prague, the pistol, in the hands of the Prague Mayor, Pavel Bem, went off at 09.00 am this morning to start the 16th running of the Volkswagen Prague Marathon.
In bright sunshine with temperatures hovering around 12 degrees celsius, and winds of only 1 meter per second, conditions were ideal for a fast marathon. Tension built as a record number of 7,900 runners (an increase of 30% over last year), and a world class field of more than 55 elite athletes lined up on Prague’s historic Old Town Square to await the start.
Having compiled an elite start list that would grace the field of any worldclass marathon, the organizers, Prague International Marathon spol. s.r.o. ("PIM") had expected a fast pace, with 12 of the elite men having run inside 2:10, including 6 under 2:09. The defending champion, and event record holder, Patrick Ivuti of Kenya, and his countryman, Sammy Korir, along with Yemane Tsegay of Ethiopia were the pre-race favourites, but they were all in for a surprise.
Denis Ndiso of Kenya went through 10 Km in 29:13, some 48 seconds ahead of the pack of 17 runners which included all of the favourites. This group passed the 10 Km marker at 30:01 and it was clear that at this pace they were headed for a race record.
At halfway Ndiso still led in 1:02:33, a very ambitious 2:05:06 pace for a runner with a personal best of 2:12:33. A group of ten, still including all of the favourites, followed in 1:03:18. By 30 km the young Kenyan Eliud Kiptanui, the Ethiopian Getu Feleke, and Tsegay had opened a four second lead on Nicholas Koech of Kenya. Soon Tsegay dropped off the pace and at 35 km Kiptanui pushed the pace again and broke away from Feleke very quickly.
Kiptanui had only a 2:12:17 marathon to his credit previously, but it was run at altitude in the Safaricom Marathon in Kenya so he was definitely an unknown quantity. By 40 km he was on his own and looking so strong that the only question remaining was how much under the race record the 20 year old would run. That question was soon answered when he crossed the finishing line in a brilliant 2:05:39, smashing the old record by more than two minutes and running the sixth fastest time in the world this year – a time that would have been considered unthinkable in Prague before today. Yemane Tsegay managed to recover enough to finish in a fine 2:07:11 in second, also under the old course record, as was Nicholas Koech in 2:07:23 for third place.
In the women’s race the lead group of four women at 10 km included Ashu Kasim and Eyerusalem Kuma of Ethiopia, and Helena Kirop and Rose Cheruiyot of Kenya. By the half-marathon mark, reached in 2:12:30, only Kasim and Kirop remained in contention. By 30 km Kirop had opened up a lead of over one minute on the second place Kasim. From there to the finish she continued to push the pace, opening up a lead of more than two minutes, and crossing the line in another race record time of 2:25:29, almost one minute under the old record of Maura Viceconte which was set back in 2001. A strong finish by Alevtina Ivanova of Russia moved her up to second in 2:27:36, while Kasim crossed in 2:29:54 for third.
This year’s Volkswagen Prague Marathon also incorporated the European Police Championship Marathon, which saw 150 police officers from 25 countries all over Europe (and Pakistan) taking part in the main race. Winner in the mens‘ section was Andrii Naumov of Ukraine in 14th place overall with a time of 2:13:49, while the first woman was Yuliya Ruban also of Ukraine in 2:31:13.
The race was also one of the last chances for Czech athletes to achieve their qualifying times for the forthcoming European Championships (2:17 for men and 2:36 for women), but none were able to meet those times. The first Czech man was Petr Pechek in 2:22:18 while the top Czech woman was Radka Churanova in 2:59:24.
This year’s Volkswagen Prague Marathon sets a whole new benchmark for PIM and really seals the company’s arrival on the world stage.
Consider that the first ever race, just sixteen years ago, saw just 958 runners and less then 10 elites taking part, and compare this to what was achieved today, and the scale of its growth is staggering. One can only wonder what next year will bring.