Kenyan athletes recorded mixed results in road races across the world over the weekend.
Kenya’s Barselius Kipyego coasted to course record breaking victory at Mattoni Usti nad Labem Half Marathon in Czech Republic on Saturday.
Kipyego retained his title, shaving one second off the standard he set last year with victory and lifetime best of 59 minutes and 15 seconds.
Josphat Tanui, competing in just the third half marathon of his career, took more than a minute off his personal best to take second place in 59:22 as Tanzania’s Ismail Juma came in third in 59:30.
Kipyego felt at home in Usti nad Labem. It was where, in 2015, he enjoyed his first big breakthrough, finishing second in 1:00:59. On his return to the Czech city last year, he smashed the course record by 83 seconds with a lifetime best of 59:15.
So on Saturday, in his third successive appearance at this event, he had no qualms in taking control of the race when he was unhappy with the job the pacemaker was doing.
A large lead pack had passed through five kilometres in 14:03, but Kipyego soon took control and led the field through 10 kilometres in 28:09 with 10 men remaining in the pack.
The 24-year-old Kenyan then upped the pace. By the time he reached 15 kilometres in 42:03, having covered the previous five-kilometre segment in 13:54, he had just two opponents remaining: Tanui and Juma.
Less than eight minutes later, the Kenyan duo managed to drop Juma. Kipyego then broke away from Tanui with one mile to go, occasionally glancing at his watch to see if he was on course to break his own course record.
“The pacemaker wasn’t the best, so I tried to push because I wanted to break my PB and the course record,” said Kipyego. “The course was very nice and the weather was good.”
Kenyan born Violah Jepchumba of Bahrain also broke the course record to win the women’s race in 1:06:06, which was a Bahraini record and a huge improvement on the previous course record of 1:07:17 set in 2015 by former world half marathon record-holder Peres Jepchirchir.
Nancy Kiprop of Kenya came in second in 1:07:22, just one second ahead of last year’s runner-up Lucy Cheruiyot from Kenya as both women were rewarded with big personal bests.
In Northern Ireland, Kenya’s Gideon Kipsang took his second half marathon victory in perfect conditions in Belfast on Sunday, winning in the in 1:04:38, 14 seconds slower than his record-breaking performance in the same race two years ago.
Irish Olympian Catriona Jennings confirmed her recent good form with an inspired performance to win the women’s race in 1:15:38.
In the Netherlands, defending champion Kenya’s Edwin Kiptoo, who had won the race’s last two editions, lost the battle to three Ethiopians, finishing fourth at Dam tot Damloop, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race held from Amsterdam and Zaandam on Sunday.
Kiptoo clocked 45.53 to settle fourth behind the winner Birhanu Legese in 45:38 as compatriots Yenew Alamirev and Jiks Tadesse in 45:45 and 45:51 respectively.
Ugandan Mercyline Chelangat, who finished 13th in the 10,000m at the World Championships in London last month, prevailed to take the victory in women’s race in 53:08.
In China, Kenya’s Stephen Chemlany took third place in 2:11:50 at Beijing Marathon on Sunday where Salah-Eddine Bounasr stunned a quality field that included 11 sub-2:10 runners to become the first Moroccan winner in the 37-year history.
The 26-year-old Bounasr clocked 2:11:18, 64 seconds outside of his personal best set when finishing fifth at the Prague Marathon in May and well shy of the course record of 2:07:16 registered by Ethiopia’s world bronze medallist Tadese Tola in 2013.
The 2014 winner Girmay Birhanu, both from Ethiopia clocked 2:11:26 to finish second as compatriot Meselech Beyene rallied to extend Ethiopia’s win streak in the women’s race to four years in 2:27:44, the second fastest of her career, to fulfill her comeback victory.
The 24-year-old Rebecca Chesir (Kenya), who improved her PB to 2:24:25 in Vienna this year, finished second in 2:30:31.
In Denmark, Kenyan born Abraham Cheroben and Eunice Chumba of Bahrain floored their Kenyan rivals to win their respective races at Copenhagen Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday.
Cherobon clocked a world leading 58:40 as the 25-year-old became the third fastest man in history over the distance with the fourth fastest performance.
Big surprise Jorum Okombo from Kenya was second in 58:48 and Alex Oloitiptip third in 58:51.
On the women's race, Chumba clocked 1:06:11, a lifetime best for the 24-year-old Bahraini who led four other women under the previous race record. Kenyan Joan Chelimo Melly second in 1:06:25.