Kosgei sets North American all-comers’ record as Lagat conquer Mumbai


Kosgei sets North American all-comers’ record as Lagat conquer Mumbai
Brigid Kosgei on her way to winning the Houston Half Marathon (Victah Sailer) © Copyright/COURTESY IAAF.

In Summary

  • Chicago marathon champion Brigid Kosgei strolled to victory at the 2019 Aramco Houston Half Marathon on Sunday, setting an all comers’ record with relative ease.
  • Kosgei clocked 65:50 minutes to not only set a new course record as she also lowered her personal best (PB).
  • On a cold morning with temperatures only just above freezing, the opening five kilometres were covered in a comfortable 16:07 with about nine women forming the lead pack, but Kosgei and fellow Kenyan Fancy Chemutai soon upped the pace, reaching 10 kilometres in 31:33.

Chicago marathon champion Brigid Kosgei strolled to victory at the 2019 Aramco Houston Half Marathon on Sunday, setting an all comers’ record with relative ease.

Kosgei clocked 65:50 minutes to not only set a new course record as she also lowered her personal best (PB).

On a cold morning with temperatures only just above freezing, the opening five kilometres were covered in a comfortable 16:07 with about nine women forming the lead pack, but Kosgei and fellow Kenyan Fancy Chemutai soon upped the pace, reaching 10 kilometres in 31:33.

Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Half Marathon champion Fancy Chemutai settled for the second place in a time of 66:48, while the defending champion Ruti Aga of Ethiopia was relegated to the third spot as she clocked 66:56.

In the men’s category, Shura Kitata of Ethiopia took the honours after crossing the finish line in 60:11 ahead of compatriot Yemal Yimer who clocked 60:14 as Kenya’s Bedan Karoki settled for the bronze in 60:18.

Interestingly, both Kosgei and Kitata finished as runners-up at the 2018 London Marathon and have already been added in the 2019 field slated for April 28.

Kenya’s Albert Korir clinched gold in the men’s full marathon after clocking 2:10:02 followed by Ethiopia’s Yitayal Atnafu who clocked 02:10:08 while Justus Kimutai finished third in a time of 02:10:25.

It was an Ethiopian affair in the women 42km race as they dominated the top six positions. Birukayit Degefa cut the tape in 02:23:28 to set a new PB while also falling short of the course record by seconds.

Compatriots Belaynesh Fikadu (02:26:41) and Mesret Belete (02:26:56) bagged silver and bronze respectively.

Korir takes men’s crown as Degefa successfully defends title in full marathon

Elsewhere, Kenya’s Albert Korir cliched gold in the men’s full marathon after clocking 2:10:02 followed by Ethiopia’s Yitayal Atnafu who clocked 02:10:08 while Justus Kimutai finished third in a time of 02:10:25.

Korir had never been to the USA before and had to battle until the final kilometre when he slowly pulled ahead of Ethiopia’s Yitayal Atnafu to win in 2:10:02, six seconds ahead of the man who would become runner-up here for an astonishing fourth year in a row – on his 26th birthday, no less.

In the women race, Biruktayit Degefa retained her title in a personal best of 2:23:28 and came within 14 seconds of the course record. She also became the third woman in history to win the Houston Marathon three times.

Degefa was challenged through 30km by Meseret Belete, the 19-year-old who holds the world U20 best for the half marathon and who was making her marathon debut. But Belete couldn’t respond when Degefa picked up the pace just after 30km, and was passed near the finish by Belaynesh Fikadu, who finished as runner-up in 2:26:41.

Belete was third in 2:26:51, securing an Ethiopian sweep of the podium.

 Lagat rules Mumbai

Meanwhile, Kenya’s Cosmas Lagat prevailed in adverse weather conditions to win the Mumbai marathon in 2:09:15 ahead of Ethiopia’s duo of Aychew Bantie who finished second in 2:10:05 and Shumet Akalnew  2:10:14 who settled for bronze.

The men’s race naturally started steadily and a large pack of 14 runners – including three pacemakers – went through 10km in 30:53, 20km in 1:02:18 and the halfway point in 1:05:15.

However, Lagat made a decisive surge just before 29km and quickly put daylight between himself and his rivals, partially splitting up the leading pack.

Lagat passed 30km in 1:32:34, assisted by two pacemakers whom he kept instructing to go faster, with a chasing pack of seven men 11 seconds behind.

The remaining pacemakers were to drop out at about 32km but Lagat bravely pressed on and kept on increasing the gap, to almost 40 seconds by 35km, although later he admitted that despite feeling strong, he spent much of the final 10km running scared.

“It was a good moment to make a break, but I also knew there were good runners behind me,” he said. “From 35km I was never sure how close there were to me or whether they were coming back to me.”

In fact, at 38km he had almost a minute’s lead before Ethiopia’s Aychew Bantie edged away from his compatriot Shumet Akalnew in the closing kilometres to clinch second and reduce the winning margin to 50 seconds by the finish.

Lagat crossed the line in 2:09:15 for his third win over the classic distance in six outings, his other two victories also coming in hot weather conditions in the Spanish city of Seville.

Ethiopia’s Worknesh Alemu led her six compatriots to clinch the top seven spots in the women race. Alemu clocked 2:25:45 ahead of pre-race favourite Amane Gobena 2:26:09 while Birke Bekele closed the podium in 2:26:39.

Additional reporting by IAAF

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