Via Race Organizers
April 24, 2016
ISTANBUL, Turkey – Ali Kaya of Turkey and Kenya’s Violah Jepchumba cruised to dominating victories at the third edition of the Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Sunday (24). Kaya, last year’s European cross country champion, clocked 1:00:16 to win by 15 seconds in a race that featured a rare head-to-head battle between world record holders Zersenay Tadese and Leonard Komon.
In the women’s race, Jepchumba, the world leader, prevailed in 1:08:17, more than a minute clear of Ethiopian Meskerem Assefa.
“It felt very, very good,” said Kaya, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on April 20, when sizing up his first victory in a road race. “I finished with a lot of power. For sure I could have been even faster. We were hoping for under 60 minutes.”
But a sluggish 15:04 opening 5km immediately put the goal of Istanbul’s first sub-one hour race in jeopardy. The pace picked up over the next five kilometres, but even then the 28:40 10km split was still 30 seconds off the pre-race plan.
The tempo did make for a competitive race, with a hefty group of 11 still in contention after 10km, a pack that was reduced to eight by 15km, passed in 42:30. Among them were Tadese, the world record holder in the half marathon, and Komon, the world standard bearer in the 10km and 15km. Leonard Langat, who clocked a solid 59:18 Rome-Ostia Half Marathon on March 13, was in the hunt as well, along with Kaya, who was just biding his time.
“The first 10k was a little bit slow. So we tried to push in the last 10k,” Kaya said. “It was very windy towards the end but I finished with a lot of power.”
That showed when he made his break in the 18th kilometre, building an 11 second lead by 20km to finish unchallenged.
Kaya said his focus will now turn towards his 5000/10,000m double ambition at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Kaya was a finalist at both distances at the IAAF World Championships last year, finishing seventh in the longer race.
In the battle for the minor places, Komon was first of the quartet to be dropped, leaving Langat and Tadese to give chase. Neither managed to chip away at the deficit, and instead took turns at claims to the runner-up spot. Tadese broke from the Kenyan for good with just under a kilometre remaining to finish second in 1:00:31 in his first race since late November.
Langat was third in 1:00:39 with Komon a distant fourth in 1:00:48.
Jepchumba dominates – Women’s race
Arriving just three weeks from her world-leading 1:05:51 performance in Prague, Jepchumba was clearly the woman to beat, a role she lived up to valiantly. Running alone on the largely flat picturesque out-and-back course along the Sea of Marmara, Jepchumba was already nine seconds ahead of Assefa after 5km and forged on to pad her lead with every passing kilometre. At 10km, reached in 31:37, she was 37 seconds ahead; at 15km (47:25), a full minute clear of her closest pursuer. The main problem she faced, she said, were the conditions in the race’s waning stages.
“Running by myself is easy,” Jepchumba, 25, said. “The wind was a problem towards the end, and it was hot.”
Unlike Kaya, Jepchumba isn’t eying Rio this year. Instead, her mind is already on her next half marathon, the Goteborgsvarvet Half Marathon in Gothenburg, Sweden, on May 21.
“I like (this distance) very much,” she said. Assefa clocked 1:09:39 to finish second with her compatriot Amane Gobena third in 1:09:50.
1. Ali Kaya, Turkey, 1:00:16
2. Zersenay Tadese, Eritrea, 1:00:31
3. Leonard Kipkoech Langat, Kenya, 1:00:39
4. Leonard Komon, Kenya, 1:00:48
5. Kenneth Kipkemoi Kiprop, Kenya, 1:01:09
6. Vincent Rono, Kenya, 1:01:23
7. Titus Mbishei, Kenya, 1:01:55
8. Evans Kigen Kurui, Kenya, 1:02:08
9. Emmanuel Bor, Kenya, 1:02:23
10. Evans Kiplagat, Kenya, 1:02:50
1. Violah Jepchumba, Kenya , 1:08:17
2. Meskerem Assefa, Ethiopia, 1:09:39
3. Amane Gobena, Ethiopia, 1:09:50
4. Alemitu Bekele, Turkey, 1:15:26
5. Chaltu Negesse, Ethiopia, 1:15:38
6. Gulsen Kilinc, Turkey, 1:22:49
7. Diana Lobacevske, Lithuania, 1:26:25
Complete results will be available later on the race website: http://www.istanbulyarimaratonu.org/