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Kenyan Chumo and Ethiopian Bekere victorious in Barcelona

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Kenyan Chumo and Ethiopian Bekere victorious in Barcelona - Sports Leo

Kenya’s Victor Chumo and Ethiopia’s Ashete Bekere took their respective titles at the eDreams Mitja Marato Barcelona (half marathon), a World Athletics Gold Label road race, on Sunday.

On a perfect day for running, the 33-year-old Chumo succeeded after a thrilling sprint finish in 59:58 while Bekere was an overwhelming victor to smash her career-best by exactly four minutes to 1:06:37.

Paced by the Kenyan pair of Cornelius Kiplangat and Boniface Kibiwot, the men’s race kicked off at a moderate tempo as the large main group went through the opening 5km in 14:18.

The rhythm then heated up over the following kilometres, with the lead pack reaching 10km in 28:04, well on schedule to attack the course record of 59:44 set in 2018. Six men remained in contention: Kenyans Chimo and Moses Koech, Uganda’s Stephen Kissa and Mande Bushendich, and Eritrea’s Abrar Osman and Ethiopia’s Tesfahun Alkanew.

Once the pacesetters dropped out the six athletes took turns with the pacing duties. First Chumo took command, then Osman, the only athlete with sub-60 minute credentials, pushed hard. Even Kissa moved to the front on his first-ever try over the distance.

By 15km, the clock was reading a promising 42:24 with six men still battling it out. But the speed decreased a bit over the following kilometres with a 54:14 19km split eliminating any chance of a course record. Over the closing kilometre, Chumo, Koech and Kissa proved to be the strongest and pulled away targeting a sub-one hour run.

Chumo prevailed at the tape in 59:58, clipping five seconds from his previous best with Kissa and Koech next in 1:00:00, an interesting debut for the Ugandan and a career-best for the 22-year-old Kenyan by 11 seconds.

“I have been looking for an under 60 minute time for so long so I’m very satisfied with my win and my clocking today,” Chumo said.

Held simultaneously with the men’s race, the women’s contest began conservatively as the four-woman leading group went through the opening five kilometres in 15:51.

That pack included pre-race favourite Roza Dereje, her fellow Ethiopians Ashete Bekere and Asnakech Awoke plus Kenya’s Dorcas Kimeli. Always paced by Daniel Feyisa, the quartet passed 10km in 31:32 for a 15:41 5km split, but not fast enough to threaten either the world record or the course record set by Florence Kiplagat in a then-world record of 1:05:09.

By then, Britain’s Charlotte Arter travelled in fifth (32:390 alongside Ugandan Rachael Chebet while Germany’s Alina Reh ran 22 seconds behind that duo.

After another 15:51 5km section for an overall 47:23 15km split, the big surprise came when Dereje simply could not live with the pace and began to struggle leaving behind any chance of a podium finish.

Simultaneously, Bekere, the winner at the last Berlin marathon in a PB of 2:20:14, began to push hard and Kimeli soon lost ground. Awoke managed to keep up with her compatriot for some 1200m, Bekere’s relentless pace proved too fast.

She broke from Awoke with three kilometres remaining and finished unchallenged in 1:06:37 for a massive PB. Awoke’s 1:07:04 was also a lifetime best by over three minutes. Kimeli completed the podium six seconds behind Awoke in 1:07:10 also a career-best for the Kenyan. As for Dereje, she finished two minutes behind the winner in 1:08:38.

Arter managed to hold off the late challenge by fast-finishing Reh to finish fifth in 1:10:01, seven seconds ahead of the German.

Men –

1 Victor Chumo (KEN) 59:58
2 Stephen Kissa (UGA) 1:00:00
3 Moses Koech (KEN) 1:00:00
4 Abrar Osman (ERI) 1:00:06
5 Tesfahun Akalnew (ETH) 1:00:10
6 Mande Bushendich (UGA) 1:00:14
7 Victor Kiplangat (KEN) 1:01:04
8 Ben Connor (GBR) 1:01:34
9 Noah Kipkemboi (KEN) 1:01:53
10 Ashenafi Moges (ETH) 1:02:16

Women –

1 Ashete Bekere (ETH) 1:06:37
2 Asnakech Awoke (ETH) 1:07:04
3 Dorcas Kimeli (KEN) 1:07:10
4 Roza Dereje (ETH) 1:08:38
5 Charlotte Arter (GBR) 1:10:01
6 Alina Reh (GER) 1:10:08
7 Rachael Chebet (UGA) 1:10:13
8 Debora Schoneborn (GER) 1:11:37
9 Rebeca Schoneborn (GER) 1:11:40
10 Miriam Dattke (GER) 1:11:40

In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo

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