2011 World Championship Marathon: Abel Kirui Repeats as Champion

By LetsRun.com
September 4, 2011
Daegu, South Korea

Abel Kirui absolutely dominated Sunday's World Championship Marathon in Daegu, South Korea, winning by a healthy 2:28 in 2:07:38, to repeat as World Champion. Teammate Vincent Kipruto was second in 2:10:06 as Kenya's phenomenal World Championships continued. Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia was third.

In 2009 in Berlin, Kirui set a Championship record of 2:06:54 to win his first world title. His win here was even more impressive, as he destroyed the field the second half of the race.

The first 10km was reached in a modest 31:21. Soon after the race had its first major casualty. In the 39th minute, 2010 New York City champion Gebre Gebremariam, one of the pre-race favorites, sat down on the road. Not sure what the problem was, but he was soon out of the race.

Kirui Runs Away from the Field After Halfway
The pace continued to quicken and 15k was in 46:28 (15:07 from 10k to 15k). The faster pace continued through 20k (splits below this article) and by halfway (1:05:07) the lead pack was down to 16. That would change in an instant. Before you knew it the pack was down to 5 (Kirui, Kipruto, Lilesa, Eliud Kiptanui of Kenya and Abderrahime Bouramdane of Morocco). By 25k Bouramdane had cracked and it was 4. Minutes later, there was one man out in front, Kirui. He was hammering away at the front and no dared stick with him.  He ran 25k to 30k in 14:18 (2:00:40 pace) and was in front by  11 seconds over Kiptanui and Lilesa, with Kipruto a few seconds back.

Would the pace take its toll on Kirui? More than 8 miles of running remained on the humid day in Daegu (74F and overcast with 65% humidity at start, 78F and overcast with 57% humidity at finish).

The pace began to take its toll... on the runners behind Kirui. Kirui's extended his lead to 1:14 on Kipruto and Lilesa by 35k. By 40km Kirui's lead was a whopping 2:34, as Kipruto and Lilesa and the field felt the effects of trying to stay with Kirui.

Abel's hard work was done and he could coast in the final 2km (he only ran 15:56 5km pace from 40km to the finish). Meanwhile Kipruto and Lilesa had to settle the battle for the lesser medals. Together at 40km, Kipruto was best over the final 2km, and he got the silver in 2:10:05 to Lilesa's bronze in 2:10:32

Bouramdane held on for fourth and David Barmasai moved ahead of Eliud Kiptanui for 5th to complete Kenya's scoring in the team competition and win Kenya the World Marathon Cup.

Japan's Hiroyuki Horibata was a respectable 7th in 2:11:52. Horibata, Kentaro Nakamoto (10th 2:13:10) and LRC hero Yuki Kawauchi (led at 10k, 18th in 2:16:11) would lead Japan to silver in the World Marathon Cup ahead of Morocco.

American Men Struggle
The American men did not have a good day. Running together early on, Nick Arciniaga (ran 2:11:30 at Houston this year after pacing Brett Gotcher) and Sergio Reyes (US champ in Twin Cities last year) had fallen off by 10k. The Hanson's Mike Morgan would be the first American in 2:18:30. Four minutes back was the next American, Mike Sayenko, who was  37th in 2:22:49. Jegg Eggleston,  Arciniaga and Reyes would all finish and be able to turn their sights to January's Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston. Afterwards, Morgan said the race was a struggle (interview below), but that he had prepared for the heat and humidity in Florida. He's expecting his first child in October so it's an exciting time for him before the Trials. Sayenko said he has been dealing with plantar fasciitis since last year's Chicago Marathon. Eggleston and Arciniaga needed medical attention and weren't available for comment.

All Smiles for Kenya's New Marathon Ambassador (and Renato Canova Coached Athlete)

The day however clearly belonged to Kirui. He was best today by a lot. When asked if he was worried he had made his move to soon, Kirui indicated he may have had something left in the tank, "If they were to come and overtake me, the (ability to increase the) pace was there. I was not worried." The other competitors knew Kirui was the best and they had to tip their cap to him. When Kipruto was asked if he thought he could catch Kirui after Kirui took off, Kipruto said he knew he was racing for silver.

Kirui clearly excels in Championship marathons, and said he loves loop courses. More than others, his love of country really comes across. After winning in Berlin he was excited at the opportunity to meet Kenyan President Kibaki and after today's win he talked about the opportunity to shake the President's hand.  He looks forward to a big party in Kenya. He said, "I am so happy. I wish to fly to Kenya and celebrate a lot." Like in Berlin, he did a dance at the finish and his jovial personality and big smile make him a perfect ambassador for Kenyan marathoning.

The previous ambassador for Kenyan marathoning, the late Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru, who died this spring in a tragic accident, was on everyone's mind Sunday. Kirui said, "It is a very special moment for me to win the second world title. When I crossed the finish line, I remembered Sam Wanjiru." Kirui said the government of Kenya should create a race in Wanjiru's honor and the Kenyan stars would show up.

Despite being World Champion in 2009, after this year's London Marathon (DNF), Kirui switched coaches and began being coached under the great Renato Canova, a LetsRun.com cult hero (Canova is known for posting on LRC's forums). After the press conference, Kirui placed a call to Canova in Kenya where it was the middle of the night.  Kirui was excited as he said, "Renato, Renato. Thank you for coaching (me).... I told you, you should not worry." Kirui then wanted to know if the people if Kenya were happy. Most of them were probably asleep, but when they wake up today, they'll know they have a fine champion as their new ambassador to the marathon world.

QT1: Kirui mentioned Gebremariam's name a few times after the race, but a healthy Gebremariam would have had trouble with Kirui today. A 2:28 margin of victory in a competitive marathon is almost unheard of today.

QT2: The bronze by Lilesa was only Ethiopia's 4th medal at the Championships.

QT3: Yuki Kawauchi (the guy who has a real job) was popular with the Japanese media.

Abel Kirui After World Title #2
(From 3:22-9:36 is in Swahili, We'd love to know what he says right before the 8 minute mark as the Kenyan reporters started laughing like crazy. Update: A Few Swahili speakers have emailed us. Here are highlights: "Basically, he was talking about what happened the last time he won the marathon and how he got to meet the deputy prime minister (and I also believe he also got promoted to Sergeant). So the reporter asked him what he would like/or expects this time after winning, and he was a little silent and then shrugged his shoulders and said.."well, if I get (promoted) to Chief inspector.. that wouldn't be too bad.." and that's what got the reporters laughing."

Abel Kirui, Vincent Kipruto and Feyisa Lilesa Press Conference
(A 2nd clip from the conference is here)

USA's Mike Morgan

USA's Jeff Eggleston Mike Sayenko On His Plantar Troubles


Splits and Results (More here)
5km 15:58
10km 31:21 (15:23)
15km 46:28 (15:07)
20km 1:01:42 (15:14)
Halfway 1:05:07  16 in front pack
25km 1:16:25 (14:43) down to 4
30km 1:30:43 (14:18)
35km 1:45:23 (14:40)
40km 2:00:38 (15:15)

1 651 Abel Kirui KEN 2:07:38 (SB)
2 648 Vincent Kipruto KEN 2:10:06
3 375 Feyisa Lilesa ETH 2:10:32 (SB)
4 742 Abderrahime Bouramdane MAR 2:10:55
5 666 David Barmasai Tumo KEN 2:11:39
6 649 Eliud Kiptanui KEN 2:11:50
7 615 Hiroyuki Horibata JPN 2:11:52
8 576 Ruggero Pertile ITA 2:11:57
9 1036 Stephen Kiprotich UGA 2:12:57
10 627 Kentaro Nakamoto JPN 2:13:10
11 749 Rachid Kisri MAR 2:13:24
12 381 Eshetu Wendimu ETH 2:13:37
13 875 Marius Ionescu ROU 2:15:32 (PB)
14 238 Guojian Dong CHN 2:15:45 (SB)
15 464 David Webb GBR 2:15:48 (SB)
16 1148 Cuthbert Nyasango ZIM 2:15:56 (SB)
17 317 Beraki Beyene ERI 2:16:03 (SB)
18 620 Yuki Kawauchi JPN 2:16:11
19 928 Aleksey Sokolov RUS 2:16:23
20 766 Ser-Od Bat-Ochir MGL 2:16:41
21 929 Aleksey Sokolov RUS 2:16:48
22 449 Lee Merrien GBR 2:16:59
23 678 Jin-hyeok Jeong KOR 2:17:04
24 244 Zicheng Li CHN 2:17:35
25 341 José Manuel Martínez ESP 2:17:44
26 337 Rafael Iglesias ESP 2:17:45 (SB)
27 740 Ahmed Baday MAR 2:17:59
28 691 Myongseung Lee KOR 2:18:05
29 628 Yoshinori Oda JPN 2:18:05
30 354 Pablo Villalobos ESP 2:18:12
31 1102 Mike Morgan USA 2:18:30 (SB)
32 796 Urige Buta NOR 2:20:16
33 254 Shiwei Wu CHN 2:21:12
34 300 Jesper Faurschou DEN 2:21:15
35 675 Junhyeon Hwang KOR 2:21:54 (SB)
36 754 Mike Tebulo MAW 2:22:45 (SB)
37 1121 Mike Sayenko USA 2:22:49 (SB)
38 622 Yukihiro Kitaoka JPN 2:23:11 (SB)
39 1076 Jeff Eggleston USA 2:23:33
40 676 Jun-Suk Hwang KOR 2:23:47
41 1060 Nicholas Arciniaga USA 2:24:06
42 947 Anton Kosmac SLO 2:24:16
43 318 Samuel Goitom ERI 2:25:42 (SB)
44 688 Min Kim KOR 2:27:20 (SB)
45 1113 Sergio Reyes USA 2:29:15 (SB)
46 894 Coolboy Ngamole RSA 2:30:01
47 1025 Bekir Karayel TUR 2:33:20 (SB)
48 270 Ruben Sanca CPV 2:34:40
49 817 Jhon Lennon Casallo PER 2:36:43
50 888 Modike Lucky Mohale RSA 2:38:22 (SB)
51 180 Sangay Wangchuk BHU 2:38:33 (NR)
135 Jeff Hunt AUS DNF
210 Khalid Kamal Yaseen BRN DNF
316 Yared Asmerom ERI DNF
320 Yonas Kifle ERI DNF
324 Michael Tesfay ERI DNF
367 Chala Dechase ETH DNF
370 Gebregziabher Gebremariam ETH DNF
382 Bazu Worku ETH DNF
563 Zohar Zemiro ISR DNF
650 Benjamin Kolum Kiptoo KEN DNF
727 Ali Mabrouk El Zaidi LBA DNF
744 Adil Ennani MAR DNF
746 Abderrahim Goumri MAR DNF
893 David Ngakane RSA DNF
1031 Daniel Kipkorir Chepyegon UGA DNF
1035 Nicholas Kiprono UGA DNF



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