Autumn splendour as records fall
DUBLIN CITY MARATHON 2010:EVERY LAST second counts – even after 26.2 miles of running. Indeed we were counting down the seconds as Moses Kibet approached the Dublin Marathon finish on Merrion Square yesterday and, as if on cue, the lanky Kenyan raised one final spurt to clock two hours, eight minutes and 58 seconds. Magnificent.
Not only had Kibet bettered the course record for only the sixth time in the 31 editions of the event, by just nine seconds, but by dipping under the 2:09 he further underlined Dublin’s status as one of best marathon races in the world.
His 2:08.58 would have won all but one Olympic marathon and, for a man who only took up running seriously four years ago, it was probably one of the best marathon performances by any standards.
And it was that sort of day – nature at its absolute kindest for distance runners, and further reflected in a new women’s course record of 2:26.13 for Tatiana Aryasova of Russia. That knocked a full minute and nine seconds off the previous course record, which had stood for seven years, and Aryasova hardly appeared ruffled at all by her efforts, her diamond-stud earrings glistening in the brilliant autumnal sunshine.
Both Kibet and Aryasova earned a course record bonus of €5,000 to go with their winner’s prize of €15,000 – and while that might still be small money compared to other sporting awards, they unquestionably earned every cent of it. Kibet’s previous best was the 2:13.29 he ran in Limassol earlier this year, but he quite simply shattered that here, and was understandably elated.
“This is the best result of my career, easily,” said the 27 year-old Kibet, in his near-perfect English. “And the time, really, is fantastic.”
From the town of Maraquet in the Rift Valley, Kibet differs a little from other Kenyan distance runners in that he didn’t run to school, and, in fact, soccer was his sport up until four years ago.
“I wasn’t very good,” he added. “So I decided to run. Coming here to Dublin I hoped to run well, but I wasn’t sure about winning. The weather was very good. I heard it might be raining, but the day was perfect. At halfway, I knew, I felt good. There was still a small group there, but I was just behind them, in control. But I wanted to wait as long as I could, to make sure. And when I made the break then I knew I would win.”
Indeed, Kibet ran the perfect tactical race, sitting back early on while former two-time champion and record holder Aleksey Sokolov of Russia set out determinedly to retain his title. The leading group ran the first mile in 4:35, then slowed a little to 9:48 at two miles, and when they passed 10 miles in 49:46 it seemed the course record of 2:09.07, which Sokolov himself set in 2007, would survive.
A group of seven passed halfway – or 13.1 miles – in 1:05.19, but then they dropped in a 4:44 mile between mile 13 and 14, and suddenly the record was on. Still, Kibet bided his time, allowing the Ethiopian Fikadu Kedir and the other Kenyans, Mourice Musyoki and Chesoo Kipchirchir, juggle the lead between them.
Then, as they approached the infamous Wall around 20 miles, Sokolov was dropped, and a couple of miles later, as the lead group of five came across the UCD flyover just before 22 miles, Kibet suddenly pressed on the accelerator. I know that because I was following them on my bike, and was just as suddenly dropped as Kedir, Musyoki and Kipchirchir.
After that all Kibet had to worry about was chasing the course record, and without any visible signs of tiredness, he duly achieved it – leaving Kedir to claim second in 2:09.44, and Musyoki third in 2:10.25.
There were by far the three fastest top-three finishers in Dublin, and again they have nature’s form to partly thank. Kibet thus ran negative splits – the magic formula for fast times – in that he completed the second half of the race almost two minutes quicker than the first.
And what does he intend on doing with his winning money? “Ah, sure there are lots of opportunities in Kenya with that money,” he said, and no doubt there are.
Aryasova had a more interesting battle before securing the women’s top prize, as she found herself chasing fellow Russian Elsa Kireeva and the Ukraine’s Kateryna Stetsenko up until the last six miles, when she slowly moved to the front and eventually came home over a minute clear of Stetsenko, who ran 2:27.51 for second.
“Of course I’m very happy with my race, and my time,” said the 31-year-old Aryasova, who lives and trains in Cheboksary city, in the Russian Republic of Chuvashia. “This is my best result, and I’m happy to be in Dublin on such a great day. With about six miles to go I decided to go for it. I was sure then I was strongest. At halfway I wasn’t feeling too good, and was a bit behind. But I didn’t panic. I was very comfortable towards the end, and showed that with my personal best. The last few miles actually were my best.”
The wheelchair winner was 41 year-old Paul Hannon, from Keady in Armagh. Second last year, and the champion from 2008, he regained his title in 2:20.38, some way down on his best, but enough to bring him home clear of second-placed John Fulham.
“Overall these times take Dublin to a new level again,” said race director Jim Aughney.
“We struggled for a long time to break 2:10, and now we’ve gone under 2:09. So this is a world-class race now for sure. New York will struggle to beat that in a few weeks’ time. We’ve proved again that Dublin is a great course, and we’re delighted to be handing out another course record bonus, for both men and women.”
Men: 1 M Kibet (Kenya) 2:08.58 (course record), 2 F Kedir (Ethiopia), 2:09.44, 3 M Musyoki (Kenya) 2:10.25, 4 C Kipchirchir (Kenya) 2:10.27, 5 A Sokolov (Russia) 2:10.31, 6 A Toptun (Ukraine) 2:13.33, 7 T Abyu (Great Britain) 2:14.32, 8 S Njorge (Kenya) 2:14.47.
Irish placings(AAI National Marathon Championship): 1 S Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers) 2:19.33, 2 J McAlister (St Malachy’s) 2:21.04, 3 G Roberts (City of Derry) 2:21.20.
Women: 1 T Aryasova (Russia) 2:26.13 (course record), 2 K Stetsenko (Ukraine) 2:27.51, 3 E Kireeva (Russia) 2:28.02
Irish placings(AAI National Marathon Championship): 1 Barbara Sanchez (Raheny) 2:39.40, 2 P Curley (Tullamore Harriers) 2:44.00, 3 Lorraine Manning (Raheny) 2:26.16.
Wheelchair division: 1 P Hannon (Armagh) 2:20.38.
1980 (first race) Dick Hooper (Ireland) 2:16.14; 1981 Neil Cusack (Ireland) 2:13.58; 1982 Jerry Kiernan (Ireland) 2:13.45; 2004 Lezan Kimutai (Kenya) 2:13.08; 2006 Aleksey Sokolov (Russia) 2:11.39; 2007 Aleksey Sokolov (Russia) 2:09.07; 2010 Moses Kibet (Kenya) 2:08.58