Athletics

CT Marathon: Koech takes men’s title, Chepchirchir smashes women’s record

Edwin Koech (Supplied)
Edwin Koech (Supplied)

Cape Town - It came right down to the wire in the 2019 edition of Cape Town Marathon as Edwin Koech held off pacemaker Daniel Muteti to win Africa’s only IAAF Gold Label Status marathon.

With a 2:08 target, Alex Kibarus and Daniel Muteti stuck to their tasks as pacemakers and took the lead pack of 20 runners through 10km in 30:20 in near perfect conditions for the fifth year in a row. Halfway came and went in 1:03.46 and something special was clearly on the cards. 14 runners were still in the lead pack at the halfway mark, with Elroy Galant and Gladwin Mzazi of South Africa prominently placed. Kibarus, his job as pacemaker done, dropped out, but Muteti gamely stuck to his task, hoping to take the runners to 35km.

At 30km the clock read 1:31:06 with seven athletes still in the hunt for line honours and the course record, including Galant. But it was at this time that the athletes turned into the South Westerly wind. Galant started to take some strain from this point on as Muteti and Koech continued to drive the pace (35km in 1:46.17, Galant 1:46.28). It was in the final kilometre that Koech was able to break Muteti who must have fancied his chances to not only pace, but also win the overall title. Koech came home to win 2:09.20 with Muteti second (2:09.25). Mohamed Ziani surged past Galant in the closing stages of the race to take the final podium position (2:09.29). Galant, in only his second Marathon had to settle for fourth, but improved his marathon time from 2:12.50 to 2:10.31.

“I am very happy to win here today,” said Koech after this race.

“The route is really good and conditions were perfect. We were hoping for the record, but we found that at 30km when we turned back, we hit the wind and we lost time.” Koech added that he would be very interested in returning, should he receive an invitation again

Galant also took the title of SA Marathon champion which took some of the sting off not finishing on the podium.

“I am not happy. I really wanted to run a bit faster and get onto the podium. The SA Title is great though and the Olympic Qualifier under my belt is good. But a podium is what I really wanted. So it is a bittersweet run.”

Galant went on to say that he struggled a bit in the last 7km.

“My stomach was playing up a bit. So that did affect me.” Gelant still fought valiantly and had to throw up on the finish line.

This was arguably the deepest women’s field yet assembled at the Cape Town Marathon and it showed. Celestine Chepchirchir led (the top three women under the previous record of 2:29.28 set by Namibia’s Helalia Johanes in 2018). With six sub 2:30 athletes in the field, it was hardly surprising that the women’s field delivered

From the gun a group of nine athletes set a blistering pace, going through the 10km mark in 34:02, led by Kenya’s Janet Jelagat Rono. Halfway came and went in 72:04 driven by Nurit Yimam. The group was on a 2:24/2:25 finish. Gradually the high intensity started to whittle down the leading women until there were only three left to battle it out after 35km. By 40km, Chepchirchir had taken control of the race, with a 28 second lead over Nurit Yimam who had 16 seconds on Gete Tilahun.

Chepchirchir held on to win, clocking 2:26.44 to lead the top three inside the course record of 2:29.28. Yimam finished second (2:27.40) with Tilahun rounding out the podium (2:28.32). By breaking the course record, Chepchirchir added a R100 000 incentive bonus to the first prize of R265 000.

As in 2018, the 2019 Cape Town Marathon incorporated the South African Marathon Championships. Cornelia Joubert took her second National Marathon title, coming home in 2:43.18

“We are truly fortunate. It seems that every year we are able to gather a deeper field than the previous year and the results are clearly evident as the winning times over the years have shown,” said Janet Welham, Race Director for the Cape Town Marathon. “Being Africa’s only IAAF Gold Label Status marathon does mean that we are a very attractive prospect for athletes from around the globe which allows us secure such deep fields.”

“Throughout my running career, the marathon was always the big one, the big race that was always the one to ultimately do. I was never able to run a marathon of this magnitude on home soil and so to be part of this event is an incredible honour and privilege. That it is now possible for South Africans to have that experience right here in South Africa is a dream come true,” said race ambassador Elana van Zyl-Meyer.

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