Both course records fell at the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon as Kenyan duo Wilfred Kimitei and Yvonne Jelagat triumphed at the IAAF Gold Label Race on Saturday (20).

A group of eight men passed through 10km in 28:59. Kenya’s Peter Lemuya and Morocco’s Moussab Hadout fell back from the pack before the leaders passed through 15 kilometres in 43:22, paced by Timothy Kimeli.

But Kimeli decided to stay in the race and ran alongside Kimitei, Edwin Kiplagat and Evans Cheruiyot for the final few kilometres. Kimitei proved to have the stronger finish and stormed home to win in 1:00:54 as just five seconds separated the first four men to cross the finish.

Kimitei’s winning time took seven seconds off the race record with compatriots Edwin Kimutai Kiplagat and Timothy Kimeli following closely behind, sharing a time of 1:00:57.

“The race wasn’t at all easy,” said Kimitei, the African 10,000m silver medallist. “The hills were pretty tough but I kept enough strength for the finish.”

Just two athletes remained in contention before the half-way point of the women’s race as Sutume Asefa and Yvonne Jelagat reached 10km in 32:04, more than 20 seconds ahead of their nearest pursuers.

Asefa then gradually pulled away from Jelagat and the Ethiopian looked as though she was on her way to victory. But Jelagat found another gear in the final kilometre and reeled in Asefa, winning in 1:08:19 to take 48 seconds off the race record.

Asefa was second in 1:08:40, also finishing well inside the previous race record, while Kenya’s Marion Limo took third in 1:11:21.

“I’m pleased that I pulled it off and made my coach happy,” said Jelagat, whose previous best of 1:09:04 was set on her debut at the distance in Prague last month. “I had quite a lot of energy left at the end which meant I was able to speed up. When I saw Sutume was struggling, I seized the opportunity and it paid off.”

Jelagat broke the race record of Joyciline Jepkosgei who debuted here in 2016 with 1:09:07. Jepkosgei is now the world record-holder with her 1:04:52 run in Prague last month.

Although the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon course is pretty rugged, the ‘city of colonnades’ offers plenty of opportunities to run fast. “Today we got to see just how fast Karlovy Vary can be,” said RunCzech Running League President Carlo Capalbo. “I’m delighted that the men and women have met our expectations and ran so competitively and fast.”

LEADING RESULTS

Men

1 Wilfred Kimitei (KEN) 1:00:54

2 Edwin Kimutai Kiplagat (KEN) 1:00:57

3 Timothy Kimeli (KEN) 1:00:57

4 Evans Cheruiyot (KEN) 1:00:59

5 Shadrack Korir Kimining (KEN) 1:01:37

6 Donald Mitei (KEN) 1:02:11

7 Moussab Hadout (MAR) 1:02:20

Women

1 Yvonne Jelagat (KEN) 1:08:19

2 Sutume Asefa (ETH) 1:08:40

3 Marion Jepkirui Limo (KEN) 1:11:21

4 Ayantu Gemechu (ETH) 1:11:49

5 Mercy Jerotich Kibarus (KEN) 1:13:44

6 Polline Wanjiku Njeru (KEN) 1:13:51

7 Olga Kotovska (UKR) 1:14:18

Comment

Alex Korio and Irene Cheptai made it a Kenyan double at the TCS World 10K Bengaluru 2017 race, winning at the 10th edition of this IAAF Bronze Label Road Race in 28:12 and 31:51 respectively, on Sunday.

Cheptai caught the eye in particular with an impressive performance that will confirm her rising status in the world of distance running and reinforce the belief that she can be among the medallists over the same distance on the track at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 this coming August.

She continued her unbeaten year, which includes a win at the World Cross Country Championships in March, with the second fastest time ever seen in the Bengaluru women’s race.

A conservative first half saw nine women pass three kilometres in 9:51 and five runners – Cheptai and her Kenyan compatriots Gladys Chesir, Helah Kiprop and Magdalyne Masai as well as Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa – were still together as the halfway point was reached in 16:19, at this stage well outside course-record pace.

However, Cheptai was looking comfortable and always to the fore during the first five kilometres and soon took matters into her own hands.

She gradually went through the gears in the seventh and eighth kilometres as her rivals one-by-one slipped away as they struggled to stay with the race favourite.

Despite being on her own at the front, her tempo didn’t drop over the final two kilometres and she crossed the line in the Sree Kanteerava Stadium just three seconds outside the course record of 31:48, set by another Kenyan runner Lucy Kabuu in 2014, after running the second half of the course in 15:32.

“I wasn’t confident at the start,” said Cheptai, partially explaining why she had not pushed the pace harder during the opening kilometres. “But from eight kilometres I grew in confidence and knew that I was going to win, and I was trying for the course record from seven kilometres.”

Degefa, the last of Cheptai’s opponents to succumb, hung on to take second place in 32:00 while the 2012 women’s winner Kiprop closed the gap on Degefa in the closing stages of the race but was third on this occasion in 32:02.

Korio, another former champion of the TCS World 10K, regained the title he won in 2013 with a strong second half of the race which also saw the winner run a negative split.

New Zealand’s Zane Robertson pushed the pace along with designated pacemaker Stephen Kissa, from Uganda, during the early part of the race as a nine-man pack went through three kilometres in 8:30 and then the midway point in 14:09.

However, a sharp increase in pace from the halfway point, initially instigated by Kenya’s Edwin Kiptoo and then Korio, saw the leading pack quickly disintegrate.

Korio then threw down the gauntlet midway through the seventh kilometre and no one could stay with him.

Even though pain seemed to be etched across his face for the final third of the race, Korio didn’t falter and the gap between himself and his nearest challengers – Kiptoo and Kissa having a duel for the other places on the podium – kept on gently growing.

Korio won in 28:12 with Kiptoo winning the battle for second in 28:26 with Kissa – who later said he’d decided to finish the race around the halfway point – taking third on his debut over the distance in 28:28.

“My experience after winning the race in 2013 certainly helped me today. I knew the course and I knew where would be a good place to push,” reflected Korio. 

“I realised I could win the race at around six kilometres. I was watching Zane until the 6km mark and when Zane dropped, I knew I could push it even more,” he added.

Robertson, highly favoured after his outstanding 2016 which saw him lead the world over 10km on the roads with his 27:28, struggled during the second half of the race and finished down in seventh in 28:49.

Kenya’s world record holder Leonard Komon and Ethiopia’s defending champion Mosinet Geremew were off the back of the leading group by the fifth kilometre and eventually finished eighth and 10th in 28:55 and 29:31 respectively.

An estimated 24,000 runners took to the roads of Bengaluru on Sunday for the five different races in Asia’s leading run over distance. Korio and Cheptai each took home a winner’s cheque for US$ 26,000.

Comment

Fancy Chemutai enhanced her reputation as one of the rising stars of the road racing circuit with a course record on a warm and blustery day in the Gothenburg Half Marathon on Saturday (20) in 1:07:58.

Chemutai has only raced twice internationally but the 22-year-old excelled in both races. She finished third at the Prague Half Marathon on 1 April, clocking 1:06:58 on her debut at the distance before claiming her first overseas win in Gothenburg ahead of one of the in-form athletes on the roads this year.

After a steady opening 5km split of 15:51, defending champion and course record-holder Violah Jepchumba asserted the pressure on Chemutai with a 15:32 split through 10km in 31:23. Chemutai lost contact for the first time in the eighth kilometre but fought back to level terms with her fellow Kenyan, who finished one place ahead of Chemutai at the Prague Half Marathon last month in 1:05:22.

Rocking from side to side, Jepchumba was visibly working hard and her front-running efforts seemed to be reaping their reward. She eked out another small gap just before the 15km checkpoint in 47:48 but Chemutai countered it again on the gradual incline over the Gota Alv Bridge, one of two bridges on the course.

Despite slowing markedly after an aggressive start, the course record – and the event’s first ever sub-68-minute winning time – were still in touch as they raced back through the city centre and out towards the finish-line in the Slottsskogen Stadium.

Chemutai opened up a small gap on Jepchumba through the 20km checkpoint in 1:04:31 which she duly extended on the series of small undulations in the last two kilometres to ensure her first ever international win. Chemutai broke the tape in 1:07:58 to eclipse the course record by three seconds and take the scalp of Jepchumba, who had to settle for second in 1:08:10.

Margaret Agai made it a Kenyan clean sweep in 1:09:43 with Beatrice Mutai, the older sister of Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon, fourth in 1:10:14.

Geoffrey Yegon provided the first half of the Kenyan double in Gothenburg with victory in 1:00:19.

Three athletes were still in contention heading into the last kilometre but the runner-up from last year went one better this time, defeating Seoul Marathon winner Amos Kipruto (1:00:24) and Leonard Langat (1:00:33) while 2013 world cross-country champion Japheth Korir finished fifth in 1:01:39.

Defending champion and course record-holder Richard Mengich dropped out before the 15km checkpoint.

Comment

A senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) official has criticised the decision to postpone the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) elections and called for them to be held as soon as possible.

The Extraordinary General Assembly at which the elections were due to be held was called off by NOCK chairman Kipchoge Keino minutes before it was due to start on Friday (May 5) after he was served with a writ.

It had been obtained by the Kenya Taekwondo Association (KTA) after they were banned from taking part in the elections due to a leadership row at the organisation.

The case is now due to be heard on June 21, when all the parties in the dispute will be heard.

Writing in a letter address to the current NOCK leadership, IOC deputy secretary general Pere Miró also called on the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) to intervene and mediate the dispute.

He also expressed his scepticism that this was the real motivation for the postponement.

"This legal action initiated before the High Court for an internal matter that is under the jurisdiction of your NOC and the Electoral Board, in accordance with your NOC Constitution and the Olympic Charter, is very surprising and highly questionable coming from an individual/federation claiming to belong to the Olympic Movement," Miró wrote in a letter, copied to the WTF and other NOCK members, seen by insidethegames.

"Indeed, this goes against the rules and dispute-resolution mechanisms clearly established in your NOC Constitution and in the electoral regulations drafted by the Electoral Board and accepted by all."

NOCK has been facing the threat of suspension from the IOC since Rio 2016.

They only passed constitutional changes requested by the IOC in March.

Former marathon world record holder and IOC member Paul Tergat will stand unopposed at the election to replace Keino.

The decision to bar both the KTA and the Kenyan Cycling Federation (KCF), also suspended because of a row over who is leading it, was taken by the Centre for Multiparty Democracy-Kenya, an independent organisation brought in by NOCK to oversee the election.

It meant that Stephen Kiptanui arap Soi and James Chacha were unable to be nominated for the roles of the deputy secretary general and deputy treasurer respectively.

Soi and Chacha are among four Kenyan officials facing charges of theft and embezzlement following the disappearance of cash and equipment meant to help Kenya's athletes prepare for Rio 2016.

Soi was the team's Chef de Mission.

Miró wrote that the High Court order was "also contrary to the generally accepted practice within the Olympic Movement" for resolving such disputes.

The IOC had supposedly mediated a solution to ensure that the KTA and KCF would be able to participate.

"As this satisfactory and fair solution (fully compliant with your NOC Constitution) was agreed upon between all concerned parties, there was absolutely no objective reason to initiate any recourse before any court," Miró wrote.

"Therefore, it would be interesting to know the real intentions behind this action, the regrettable consequence of which is to delay, once more, the completion of the process.

"Whatever the real motivations may be, this action is clearly a lack of respect for your NOC (and the jurisdiction of your NOC General Assembly), the roadmap agreed upon in September in Lausanne between your NOC, the Ministry of Sport and the IOC/Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, and the numerous calls from the IOC over the past few months to finalise this process.

"More importantly, this goes against the general interest of the Olympic and Sports Movement in Kenya and the athletes, which is to have this process (that has already suffered numerous delays) completed quickly and smoothly."

All payments of subsidies from the IOC to the NOCK will remain suspended until the IOC is "satisfied" that the whole process is "successfully completed".

The IOC also reserve the right to suspend the NOCK if there is no progress, although they have so far appeared reluctant to do this. 

Miró concluded: "In view of all of the above, we hereby request that your NOC take immediate and appropriate steps to remedy this regrettable situation with all concerned parties and find a quick solution that will allow the meeting of the Elective General Assembly to resume, and the elections to be completed, as planned initially.

"As far as the specific situation of the Taekwondo Federation is concerned, we understand that, in addition to the above-mentioned legal action against your NOC and the Electoral Board, there is an internal dispute involving different 'groups' claiming to be the legitimate and legally established Taekwondo Federation in Kenya. 

"In view of this, and as per the usual procedure in these circumstances, we are copying the WTF into this letter and kindly request that the WTF examine the situation as a whole and further investigate, clarify and confirm the real status of the Taekwondo Federation in Kenya and their office-bearers vis-à-vis the WTF."

Keino, President of NOCK since 1999, was ruled ineligible from standing after proving unable to find a National Federation to propose him.

Comment

Kenya's Nicholas Bor was all set to defend his 2015 title and set a new course record at the 2016 Ottawa 10K, when an injury forced him to forego the race. But with just over two weeks to go before the 2017 Ottawa 10K on 27 May, Bor believes he is in the right form to do what he was hoping to do last year at this IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

"My body is responding well to training now, just like it was in 2015," said Bor. "Ottawa is a big race, being an IAAF gold label, and doing well there builds a good profile for my running career. It did that in 2015 when I won the race. My aim this time will still be what I wanted to do last year: to run a personal best time and if the weather conditions will be good, then I will also try to go for the course record."

Bor's 10K personal best time is 27:38, 14 seconds from the Ottawa 10K course record of 27:24 set by Deriba Merga in 2009.

It was a last minute decision to run the Hamburg marathon just two months before the Ottawa 10K last year that ended up sidelining Bor. Just 10 kilometres into the race, Bor started to feel discomfort in his feet. He pushed on with the leading pack, hoping the pain would subside, but it kept worsening until he had to pull out at around 25 kilometres.

"It was a very hard moment in my life having to miss races after all the hard training that I had done early in the year, but I am glad my management and family understood and encouraged me not to lose hope," he said.

"After having to drop out of the Hamburg Marathon, I still had some hope of recovering fast from my injury and making it to the Ottawa 10K race. I was beginning to feel better and other friends were even advising me that I should just go and see what happens in the race, but I did not want to take the risk and end up not finishing the race."

Bor thinks his injury might have resulted from trying to move up to the marathon distance too quickly since he had to change his training program to include more long runs and generally increased his weekly mileage. It was a learning experience for him.

"I won't be in any hurry again to run the marathon. Perhaps, I should first get used to pacing up to 30-35 kilometres first. That is how many other runners are transitioning successfully to the marathon distance," Bor said.

For now, Bor's main focus for this year is the Ottawa 10K and it will be exciting to watch him try and make up for what he missed last year.

Comment

Both the men's and women’s race records will be the targets at the fifth edition of the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Saturday (20).

The men’s field boasts four runners with personal bests faster than the race record of 1:01:01 that Elijah Tirop set in 2015. Of those one, Gilbert Masai, has sub-60 minute credentials. The 35-year-old has broken one hour on three occasions, most recently in Berlin on 2 April, winning in 59:17. His set his lifetime best of 59:31 in Copenhagen last September.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Shadrack Korir brings solid recent consistency to the west Bohemian spa town. He opened the year by landing on the doorstep of the 60-minute barrier, clocking 1:00:07 for seventh in Ras Al Khaimah in February. More recently he 1:01:17 in Yangzhou, finishing fifth.

Their compatriot Mark Korir is also expected in the mix for a top finish. With a 2:05:49 lifetime best from 2015 in the marathon --and more recently, a 2:06:05 run for third in Seoul-- the 32-year-old brings stronger credentials over the longer distance to the start line. But with a 1:00.48 personal best, he can't be ruled out.

Eritrea's Dawit Weldesilasie, 22, could also be a factor but he'll have to regain his form from two years ago when he produced his 1:00:26 best. 

The women's record of 1:09:07 was set last year by Joyciline Jepkosgei in her international debut. Less than one year later, the 23-year-old Kenyan, who races on the RunCzech team, went on to become the first woman to crack the 65-minute barrier with her 1:04:52 performance in Prague. Jepkosgei broke four world records* in that historic run in the Czech capital on 1 April, smashing the 10km, 15km and 20km marks en route to her half marathon victory.

Organisers hope that Kenyans Mercy Kibarus and Yvonne Jelagat, who boast performances faster than Jepkosgei's 2016 run, can set out to make the race record assault a strong possibility.

Kibarus, 33, is the most experienced of the three. She owns a 1:08:18 lifetime best from 2013, finished a creditable fifth at the 2014 IAAF World Half Marathon championships, and more recently, improved her marathon best to 2:26:52 in Seoul in March.

Yvone Jelagat, a relative newcomer on the international scene, made notable progress in the Prague race, where she clocked a lifetime best of 1:09:04 to finish seventh, with a 31:46 10km time en route, also a personal best.

In all, 4000 runners are expected to take part.

Comment

Fukuoka marathon silver medallist Patrick Makau is hopeful his early return to fitness will push him forward to stage a fast race at the Berlin Marathon in September. The Kenyan, whose last competitive race was in December in Japan, says he still has enough strength to chase the world title, reports Xinhua news agency.

Makua set a world record in Berlin in 2011, posting a time of 2:03:38, but has been helpless because of nagging injuries, as his mark has been shattered twice by compatriots Wilson Kipsang (2:03:02) and Dennis Kimetto (2:02:57).

However, commenting on Nike Corporation’s attempt to break the two-hour mark with a controlled race in Monza, Italy, Makau said it was not right to stage a race like that and marathon running is all about altitude and focus and that to win in a controlled event is not good.

Kipchoge, the Rio Olympics marathon champion, narrowly missed out the target of becoming the first man to run the marathon distance in under two hours with a time of 2:00:24.

Makau is not impressed and wants the Olympic champion to try and break the world record in a fast course like Berlin.

On his plans for the season, Makau was happy to be back fit and said he eyes to win in Berlin in another fast time.

Comment

A High Court order forcing elections at the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) to be postponed has been extended until next month. The case is now due to be heard on June 21, when all the parties in the dispute will be heard.

NOCK chairman Kip Keino called off an Extraordinary General Assembly at the Panairi Hotel in Nairobi just minutes before it was due to start on Friday (May 5) after he was served with a writ.

It had been obtained by the Kenya Taekwondo Association (KTA) after they were banned from taking part in the elections due to a leadership row at the organisation.

The Daily Nation reports, however, that the KTA's case faces a major legal hurdle after the sports registrar at the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts filed court papers stating it is not a legally registered association, does not have a certificate of registration and is therefore operating illegally.

"A body is not a sports organisation unless transited under section 50 of the Sports Act No. 25 or issued with a certificate from our office," sports registrar Rose Wasike said in her court papers.

The decision to bar both the KTA and the Kenyan Cycling Federation (KCF), also suspended because of a row over who is leading it, was taken by the Centre for Multiparty Democracy-Kenya (CMD), an independent organisation brought in by NOCK to oversee the election.

It meant that Stephen Kiptanui arap Soi and James Chacha were unable to be nominated for the roles of the deputy secretary general and deputy treasurer respectively.

Soi and Chacha are among four Kenyan officials facing charges of theft and embezzlement following the disappearance of cash and equipment meant to help Kenya's athletes prepare for last year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Soi was the team's Chef de Mission.

The CMD acted following a complaint from the Kenya Rowing and Canoe Association that the KTA and KCF should be not eligible to take part in the elections because they each had two different groups claiming to represent them.

The KTA argues that the decision by the CMD is an infringement on its constitutional right.

According to the Daily Nation, the CMD has urged the High Court to dismiss the case, claiming that the KTA does not have the legal capacity to file it.

NOCK has been facing the threat of suspension from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since Rio 2016.

They only passed constitutional changes requested by the IOC in March.

All 29 delegates, including the KTF and KCF, had voted unanimously for the resolution.

Paul Tergat was the only candidate to replace Keino as NOCK chairman at the postponed elections.

Comment

Photo:COURTESY

Valary Ayabei set a new record at the Volkswagen Prague Marathon to win in2:21:57. The Kenyan, who just five weeks ago had finished fourth in the Prague Half Marathon behind country mate Joyciline Jepkosgei, was determined to win the race and maintained his place in the front row from the start. She reached the 25 km mark in 1:21:23 where her pace started reducing but sensing that Ethiopian duo of Beriso and Bekele were closing in on her, she chose to maintain the pace and went on to win the race in a record time, breaking the previous record set by fellow Kenyan Lydia Cheromei in 2011. Beriso and Bekele finished in 2:22:15 and 2:22:23 respectively to take up the remaining top three slots. ``I feel good because I prepared well,'' said Aiyabei. ``I started the race very fast and I could not keep up with the pace. The bridges and the wind made it difficult but I am happy.'' This is her third personnal best following wins in Barcelona last year in 2:25:26 and Valencia last year in 2:24:48.

Comment

Kenyan Edwin Rotich and 2016 Olympic marathon silver medallist Eunice Kirwa lead their respective fields at the Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday (30).

Rotich ran his personal best of 59:32 in Valencia in October last year, and hasn’t competed in a half marathon since. However, the Kenyan showed good form when finishing in 46:46 at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miles in Washington DC earlier this month. He will start as one of the favourites in Istanbul in a field that includes six men who have broken the event’s one-hour barrier.

Evans Kiplagat of Azerbaijan returns to run the city’s major half marathon for the third year in a row. His winning time of 1:00:13 from 2015 stands as the race record, though it is 17 seconds shy of his career best.

Adugna Takele, the fastest Ethiopian over the distance in 2016 with 59:40, is another outstanding name in the field. The 28-year-old crossed the finish line in 1:01:14 at the RAK Half Marathon in Ras al-Khaimah in February.

There were to be two more fast Ethiopians on the starting line, however, both Tamirat Tola and Guye Adola withdrew from the race due to injury and illness respectively.

Other leading names include Kenya’s Vincent Kipsegechi Yator, who has a best of 59:55 from 2015, and Morocco’s national record holder Aziz Lahbabi with 59:25.

Peter Kwemoi Ndorobo is not to be written off in the battle for victory on Sunday. The Kenyan ran exactly the same time in Ostia in 2016 and 2017, 1:00:13, which stands as his best.

Also lining up will be Tanzania’s Ismail Juma, who was ninth in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Guiyang 2015.

The women’s race will host Kirwa, the Rio 2016 Olympic marathon silver medallist, who also took bronze in the event at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015. The 32-year-old Bahraini clocked 1:08:07 in Marugame in February, her only half marathon this year.

However, the fastest woman on paper is Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia. The 27-year-old finished in a time of 1:06:14 in Prague last year to become the world all-time number 10 over the distance.

Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich has been a fast improver this year. Starting the year with 1:09:06 in Adana, she shaved off nearly a minute from that time to win in 1:08:08 in Paris in early March, following with an impressive 1:07:42 in Milan, another victory within the same month. The next target for Chepngetich would the fourth win of the year with another improvement.

Hiwot Gebrekidan will also be setting her sights on a podium finish after she won her first ever half marathon, clocking 1:08:00 in Copenhagen last September. The Ethiopian, who will celebrate her 22nd birthday two weeks after her second race over the distance, is one of the youngest elite women to run in Istanbul on Sunday.

Comment

The chairperson of Athletics Kenya (AK) has revealed that another "high-profile athlete" has failed a doping test, just weeks after it emerged Rio Olympics marathon champion Jemima Sumgong tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. 

Jackson Tuwei said that the IAAF, the sport's global governing body, had found the positive test but said the identity of the athlete could not yet be revealed. 

Kenya's middle and long distance success has been marred by doping cases involving elite athletes. Officials estimate the number of positive tests at about 50 in the past four years. 

"There is another high-profile athlete who has also failed a doping test but we have to wait for legal procedures to be followed," Tuwei told Reuters in an interview on Thursday. 

"Obviously we cannot say who the athlete is." 

News of the test comes after Sumgong, who last year became the first Kenyan woman to win Olympic gold in the marathon, tested positive for the banned blood-booster EPO (erythropoietin) in an out-of-competition test carried out by IAAF. 

Doping was made a criminal offence in Kenya in June 2016. 

Tuwei said the IAAF had rejected Sumgong's explanation about the circumstances that led to her positive test. 

"Her explanation has been rejected and she has been ordered to send a more convincing explanation before further action is taken," Tuwei said. 

Sumgong's positive test came in the wake of a four-year ban handed to Kenya's multi-marathon champion Rita Jeptoo, Sumgong's former training partner, after she tested positive for EPO in 2014. 

“We also wish to send a very strong message to athletes representatives, doctors, coaches and all athletes support personnel that those found culpable or proved to be encouraging our athletes in this line of sporting subterfuge will be charged as prescribed by the law of the land,” AK said in a separate statement on Thursday. 

Sumgong, 32, was among the six Kenyan gold medallists in Rio, which was the country's best performance at an Olympics.

Comment

Two-time Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha will make his 1000m debut at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on 28 June.

"I'm really looking forward to my race in Ostrava," Rudisha said. "It will be my third race of the season but most interestingly for me it's my first time to run 1000 metres!"

Testing himself in off distances isn't anything new for Rudisha who last season in his run-up to a successful Olympic 800m title defence, broke the African record over 600m at the Birmingham leg of the IAAF Diamond League, clocking 1:13.10.

But going up in distance is uncharted territory for the 28-year-old, who famously broke his own 800m world record in the 2012 Olympic final.

"I'm excited to try this race. People are always asking me how would I run at 1500. I always say that's too far to run against the miler guys! But 1000m is of course shorter and closer to my racing distance.

"I've got no time or plan in mind but I'm excited to test myself and see what I can do," added Rudisha, who will be competing in the Czech city for the fifth time.

One publicly unstated goal could be the meeting record of 2:15.08 set by Ilham Tanui Ozbilen of Turkey in 2014, the fastest time that year over the rarely-run distance.

Rudisha is the latest Olympic champion announced for the meeting's 56th edition. Previously announced were 400m world record holder and Rio winner Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa who'll contest the 300m, double world and Olympic champion Mo Farah of Great Britain, who'll compete in the 10,000m, Thomas Rohler of Germany, who'll contest the javelin, and Christian Taylor of the US in the triple jump.

Comment

One of the most prestigious track and fields events is set to begin in 10 days time in Doha, Qatar. The IAAF Diamond League is an annual meeting that encompasses 32 Diamond Disciplines, following a championship style model. 

According to iaaf.org athletes will earn points in the first 12 IAAF Diamond League meetings to qualify for two final meetings where $100,000 will be at stake in each of the 32 Diamond disciplines, including $50,000 for each winner. 

In previous seasons, athletes accumulated points throughout the IAAF Diamond League season with the overall winner of each of the 32 events being the athlete with the most points, irrespective of whether they won the final.

The season is now a race to reach the finals with the winners crowned as IAAF Diamond League champions. As in a championship, the performance of athletes in the final alone will determine who the champion will be and the prize money won.

The Prize structure is as follows:

1st $50,000

2nd $20,000

3rd $10,000

4th $6000

5th $5000

6th $4000

7th $3000

8th $2000

This season's meeting in Eugene's 1500m womens' event will be historic as  it will see seven, out of 15, women who have ran under 4 minutes participate. The most sub-four-minute times ever recorded at the meetings. These women include Olympic medallists Faith Kipyegon and Hellen Obiri, the two fastest Kenyan women in history over the distance.

2017 IAAF Diamond League calendar reads as follows;

5 May – Doha, QAT

13 May – Shanghai, CHN

27 May – Eugene, USA

8 Jun – Rome, ITA

15 Jun – Oslo, NOR

18 Jun – Stockholm, SWE

1 Jul – Paris, FRA

6 Jul – Lausanne, SUI

9 Jul – London, GBR

16 Jul – Rabat, MAR

21 Jul – Monaco, MON

20 Aug – Birmingham, GBR

24 Aug – Zurich, SUI

1 Sep – Brussels, BEL

Comment

Mary Keitany took 41 seconds off the women’s-only world record* at the Virgin Money London Marathon, running 2:17:01 at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday (23).

Keitany said in the build-up to this year’s race she was in shape to break Paula Radcliffe’s mark of 2:17:42 and while she demurred when asked about the possibility of bettering Radcliffe’s outright mark of 2:15:25, Keitany was running minutes inside Radcliffe’s schedule in the first half.

Keitany was paced by her training partner Caroline Kipkirui, who she was full of praise.

“I want to thank the pacemaker who was taking me all the way to 14 miles,” said Keitany. “From there, I started to go alone and see how my body was.”

Comment

Joyciline Jepkosgei won the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon on Sunday, breaking the course record of 1:08:55 set last year by her fellow country-mate Eunice Kirwa. She finished the race with a winning time of 1:07:44 to set a new record at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

Jepkosgei, who is the World half marathon record-holder, was determined from the start of the race, braking off the pack with only Belaynesh Oljira of Ethiopia behind him. By 20km, Oljira was quickly closing the gap between them but Jepkosgei proved too much for her, winning the race while Oljira came in second with a time of 1:08:19

In the men’s race, Alexander Mutiso won after facing very stiff competition from Macharia Ndirangu. The two, who live in Japan and run for Japanese corporate-sponsored track teams, were tied from the start of the race. The two were together at 20km in 58:00 and Ndirangu was the first to enter the stadium ahead of Mutiso, but Mutiso sprinted in the last 100 metres of the race to pass Ndirangu and finish first. The two athletes were recorded to have finished the race at the same time, both in 1:00:57 and that is the closest ever finish at the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon.

 

Comment

Daniel Wanjiru held off the Ethiopian track legend Kenenisa Bekele in a thrilling finish to win his first London Marathon on Sunday(23) in 2:05:48 shortly after fellow Kenyan Mary Keitany won the women’s race in a world record.

The 24-year-old Kenyan made a break just before the 21-mile mark and battled hard over the last five miles to hold off the fast-finishing favourite Keneisa Bekele, who had fallen behind after suffering with blisters caused by ill-fitting shoes.

Bekele, won ran the world’s second fastest time in Berlin last September, was just six seconds behind with one mile to go, but he couldn’t quite close the gap and had to settle for the runner-up spot, eight seconds behind the winner.

The 2016 Amsterdam Marathon champion, Wanjiru didn’t beat his personal best time of 2:05:21 today but he did beat one of the greatest distance runners of all time.

“I’m really happy as it’s my biggest win at my first attempt at a World Marathon Majors race,” he said afterwards. “I’ve been preparing to win this race since Christmas so I’m very grateful that I achieved my goal.”

The men’s elite field was set on its way at 10:00 from Blackheath by Prince Harry and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on a perfect morning for marathon running.

A group of 10 east Africans quickly formed behind the three Kenyan pacemakers as the runners in the mass race streamed across the Start Line behind them.

Bekele immediately went to the front, tucked in behind the pacers, as if to signal that he would be the man to beat. He was joined by four of his countrymen, Feyisa Lilesa, Asefa Mengstu, Tsefay Abera and Tilahun Regassa, along with a trio of Kenyans, Wanjiru, Abel Kirui, the 2016 Chicago Marathon champion, and Bedan Karoki, making his debut at the 26.2-mile distance at the age of 26.

Ghirmay Ghebreslassie and Amanuel Mesel from Eritrea, and the Tanzanian runner, Alphonce Simbu, completed the 10.

The pacers took the group through 10K on world record pace at 28:51, the athletes making the most of the first few downhill miles, before the pace settled down to 4:45 miles, which suited Wanjiru perfectly.

“The pace was fast at the start but we all helped each other, rather than trying to destroy each other,” he said.

It was too much for Abera though, who fell back from the leading group just as the young world champion Ghebreslassie joined Bekele behind the pace makers at the front.

The remaining nine looked comfortable as they ticked off the miles through Deptford and Rotherhithe before crossing Tower Bridge and onto The Highway, passing half way in 61:40 – the perfect pace if they were to break Dennis Kimetto’s 2014 world record of 2:02:57.

The group of nine stretched out down the road with Lilesa – the Rio Olympic silver medallist – taking his turn on the front while Bekele, surprisingly, began to struggle.

“From 15K to 20K, I was getting blisters because my foot wasn’t in a good position in my shoe,” he explained later. “I changed my running style and that affected my pace and balance, which made my right hamstring sore and slowed me down.”

Bekele’s difficulties were far from the thoughts of the leaders, however, as the remaining eight strode through the twists and turns of the Isle of Dogs, now bathed in spring sunshine. At 25K, Bekele dropped out of the top 10, still in touch but looking uncomfortable, shaking his arms at his sides.

Ghebreslassie, Mengstu and Regassa also began to feel the early pace and they slipped back to leave four in the leading group. Wanjiru and Kirui were shoulder to shoulder at the front, with Lilesa a stride behind and Karoki fourth.

Ghebrslassie rejoined them at 30K as they clicked through that mark in 1:28:21, but the five didn’t stay together for long.

Lilesa cracked as they turned west along Poplar High Street, leaving four to battle it out for the three podium places. At least that’s how it looked.

Wanjiru put in a burst as they passed mile 21 in 1:40:01, pulling away from Kirui who was 10 metres ahead of Lilesa as they turned onto The Highway and past the colourful masses on the opposite side of the road, streaming east towards Canary Wharf.

Now Wanjiru was 20 metres ahead of his nearest rival and seemingly clear. But Bekele wasn’t done. The world record holder for 5000m and 10,000m pulled himself back into third, then passed Kirui to move into second.

It seemed only a matter of time before the Ethiopian would reel in the inexperienced Wanjiru, who couldn’t resist a glance behind to assess the threat.

“I looked behind at 39K and knew someone was coming, so that gave me renewed purpose,” said Wanjiru.

“I wasn’t scared when I saw Bekele behind me; if someone’s coming from behind you have to push on to win the race.”

And push on he did, keeping the gap between the two men to around 10 seconds as the pair battled it out, thrilling the crowds lining the Embankment.

As the pair past Big Ben, Wanjiru started to look more relaxed as he extended his lead over the chasing Bekele from eight seconds to 10 thanks to a 4:27 mile.

The crowds had just seen Kenya’s Mary Keitany set a new women-only world record, and they went wild again as the two leading men hit Birdcage Walk.

Bekele responded to Wanjiru’s surge, putting in a final effort to bring the gap between the two men down to six seconds, but the Ethiopian didn’t have enough in his legs to reel in the Kenyan. He started to rock and roll as he realised the London title was slipping out of his grasp.

As Wanjiru turned onto The Mall, the victory was his. He crossed the Finish Line, arms aloft, to become the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon champion in 2:05:48, proving that mind over matter works for elite runners as well as the masses by holding off a man reputed to have one of the most devastating sprint finishes in the business.

“I am the happiest man in the world,” he said. “The fast pace at the start helped me enormously, and the rest of the race was just good for me. Everything went well, it was perfect.

“I’m looking to the future and hope to come back here to defend my title and do even better next year.”

Bekele’s second place effort of 2:05:57 was one better than his result here last year, and better than he could have hoped after his mid-race problems.

“I’m not too disappointed because anything can happen in a marathon,” he said. “I planned to run better than I did but I was 400m back at one point so to come back to the leaders wasn’t easy.

“I feel I have more good marathons in me and I plan to achieve more because that’s life: you do your best, you prepare well, try to achieve more, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.”

In third place, Bedan Karoki made a great marathon debut, crossing the line 2:07:41, followed by Abel Kirui who finished in fourth in 2:07:45 to put three Kenyan men in the top four. Simbu came through to finish fifth in 2:09:10.

In the race for British World Championship selection, Josh Griffiths of Swansea Harriers delivered the shock of the day by finishing first Briton in 2:14:49 on his marathon debut.

The 23-year-old wasn’t even part of the elite field but his performance has earned him a place on the British team for the London World Championships in August.

Comment

Ethiopia’s Bonsa Dida and Kenya’s Elizabeth Rumokol won the men’s and women’s titles at the 40th Rock ’n’ Roll Madrid Marathon, crossing the line of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race in 2:10:16 and 2:33:55 respectively on Sunday (23).

In doing so, Dida put end to the Kenyan seven-year dominance of the men's race in Madrid.

Unlike the men’s event, the women’s race kicked off quite conservatively with eight women passing through the first 10km in 37:39.

Half way was reached in 1:17:39, effectively erasing any hope of breaking the course record of 2:32:04, for the leading six-woman group including Kenyans Elizabeth Rumokol, Diana Chepkemoi, Joan Kigen and Rodah Tanui plus the Ethiopian pair of Almaz Negede and Bedatu Hirpa.

But it was always the 34-year-old Rumokol who stayed closest to the pacemaker. After appearing to run comfortably throughout, she upped the pace in the final five kilometres to open a gap of a few hundred metres on her rivals.

Crossing the finish line in 2:33:55, Rumokol became the first victor of the Madrid Marathon to run the second half quicker than the first (1:17:39 and 1:16:16).

“I preferred to run relatively slow at the beginning because the race is full of ups and downs areas,” said a joyful Rumokol. “I wanted to face the closing section with energy and the plan paid off.”

Kigen finished second in 2:34:41 while Hirpa took third, almost one minute in arrears. The half marathon victors were Kenya’s Joseph Kiprono Kiptum (1:01:47) and Bahrain’s Tejitu Daba (1:11:29).

LEADING RESULTS

Men

1 Bonsa Dida (ETH) 2:10:16

2 Belete Mekonen (ETH) 2:13:04

3 Ronal Korir (KEN) 2:13:07

4 Nicholas Kipkemboi (KEN) 2:13:20

5 Geoffrey Kipkoech (KEN) 2:14:27

6 Stephen Kiplagat (KEN) 2:14:58

Women

1 Elizabeth Rumokol (KEN) 2:33:55

2 Joan Kigen (KEN) 2:34:41

3 Bedatu Hirpa (ETH) 2:34:47

4 Rodah Tanui (KEN) 2:36:03

5 Almaz Negede (ETH) 2:36:30

Comment

Kenyans Nancy Kiprop and Albert Korir took top honours in thrilling duels at the Vienna City Marathon, running 2:24:20 and 2:08:40 respectively at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday (23).

Despite the unfavourable conditions with strong winds, Kiprop clocked the second-fastest women’s time in the history of the race after battling with fellow Kenyan Rebecca Chesir. The men’s race was even closer as Korir edged ahead of Ishmael Bushendich in the final 150 metres to win by two seconds.

With high winds, it soon became obvious that this would not be a day for record attempts. But instead two very competitive races developed. In fact never before has the Vienna City Marathon seen two such thrilling finishes in one race.

The women’s leading group contained six runners when they reached half way in 1:12:36. Ethiopians Shuko Genemo, Meseret Mengistu and Roza Dereje faced three Kenyans: Kiprop, Chesir and debutante Angela Tanui.

It was then when Mengistu, the fastest runner on the start list with a best of 2:23:26, fell off the pace. Having suffered a foot problem during her training for Vienna, she later dropped out.

Genemo and Tanui also struggled. At 30km, reached in 1:42:23, Dereje, Chesir and Kiprop were left in the lead. Dereje held on for another nine kilometres, but eventually had to settle for third.

It left Kiprop and Chesir out in front as they battled for the victory. 37-year-old Kiprop ultimately edged ahead with about 400 metres to go, crossing the line in 2:24:20 to secure her biggest career win to date.

“It was very windy and it was getting really close at the end,” said Kiprop after taking almost a minute off her personal best. “This was my greatest victory.”

Chesir crossed the line five seconds later in 2:24:25, while Dereje took third in 2:25:17. Genemo, the defending champion, finished fourth in 2:26:06.

A group of 15 runners, including three pacemakers who were trying to shield the other leaders from the wind, passed the half way mark in 1:04:13. With winds projected to reach up to 60 kilometres per hour, any result faster than 2:10 would have been regarded as an extraordinary achievement.

But somehow the wind calmed down as the men reached the final 12 kilometres. And after the lead group of 12 runners plus one pacemaker passed 30km in 1:31:38, the race was thrown wide open.

Suddenly just seven runners remained in the lead group, and then a few kilometres later Korir, Bushendich and Suleiman Simotwo broke away, turning the race for victory into an all-Kenyan affair. Deribe Robi of Ethiopia, one of the pre-race favourites, had lost contact while Kenya’s Eliud Kiptanui, who was the fastest on the start list with a best of 2:05:21, dropped out at this late stage of the race.

Bushendich and Korir ran shoulder to shoulder until they could see the finish line before Korir edged ahead to win in 2:08:40, taking 88 seconds off his PB. “It was cold and windy, but it was a great day for me,” said the 23-year-old.

Bushendich followed him across the line two seconds later, while Ezekiel Omulla completed an all-Kenyan podium by taking third in 2:09:10. Simotwo, who dropped back at 36km, eventually finished fifth in 2:10:36.

LEADING RESULTS

Men

1 Albert Korir (KEN) 2:08:40

2 Ishmael Bushendich (KEN) 2:08:42

3 Ezekiel Omullo (KEN) 2:09:10

4 Alfonce Kigen (KEN) 2:10:24

5 Suleiman Simotwo (KEN) 2:10:36

6 Regasa Mindaye (ETH) 2:10:51

Women

1 Nancy Kiprop (KEN) 2:24:20

2 Rebecca Chesir (KEN) 2:24:25

3 Roza Dereje (ETH) 2:25:17

4 Shuko Genemo (ETH) 2:26:06

5 Angela Tanui (KEN) 2:26:31

6 Helalia Johannes (NAM) 2:29:25

Comment

Kenya's Mary Keitany set a new world record to win the women's London Marathon as Daniel Wanjiru took victory in the men's race. Earlier, Britain's David Weir won a record seventh wheelchair title to clinch his first victory in London since 2012. Keitany broke Paula Radcliffe's 12-year women's only marathon record to post two hours 17 minutes and one second.

In the men's race Kenyan Wanjiru held off the challenge of Kenenisa Bekele, who holds the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres world records as well as eight Olympic and world titles, to win.

It was the biggest victory of his career, having previously won the 2016 Amsterdam Marathon.

In the wheelchair race Weir clinched victory on Sunday in one hour 31 minutes and six seconds after a sprint finish to beat defending champion Marcel Hug by just a second.

Weir, taking part for an 18th consecutive year, won the Paris Marathon earlier this month and followed it with success in his home race.

Rafael Botello Jimenez was third after a dramatic finish on The Mall as Weir passed Tanni Grey-Thompson's six victories.

Six-time Paralympic champion Weir had hinted he was ready to postpone retirement to continue to focus on road racing after he walked away from Team GB following last year's disappointing Paralympics.

Soon after Weir's victory Keitany crossed the line, having broken away from the pack after just five kilometres.

She also set a new course record as she beat Radcliffe's previous women's only record of two hours 17 minutes and 42 seconds, set at the London Marathon in 2005.

Radcliffe still holds the women's world record of 2:15.25, set at the London Marathon in 2003 when she ran against men and women.

Keitany beat Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba, who finished second, after Dibaba began to struggle on the Embankment, even stopping at one point as she appeared to clutch her stomach. Ethiopia's Aselefech Mergia finished third.

Alyson Dixon was the first British runner across the line, finishing 12th, to seal her spot in GB's squad for the summer's World Championships as five-time Olympian Jo Pavey dropped out after 16 miles.

In the women's wheelchair race Switzerland's Manuela Schar took the title for the first time.

Comment

Kenya’s Felix Kimutai and Nastassia Ivanova of Belarus were victorious at the Orlen Warsaw Marathon, achieving the first marathon triumphs of their careers at the IAAF Silver Label Road Race on Sunday (23).

On a chilly and breezy day, the course records were never under threat. Instead the men’s race turned into a war of attrition with Kimutai eventually shaking off the past of his challengers in the final few kilometres.

Led by pacemaker Josphat Leting, 11 men passed through the first 10 kilometres in 30:54. Eight men were still in the lead pack as they reached half way in 1:04:31, suggesting a finishing time within 2:10.

When Leting exited the race at 30km, which he passed in 1:32:28, just four men remained in the lead pack: defending champion Atur Kozlowski of Poland, Abdi Fufa of Ethiopia, and Kenya’s Alex Saekwo and Felix Kimutai.

Kimutai and Saekwo dropped Kozlowski and Fufa within the next few kilometres, going through 35km in 1:48:07. But Saekwo wasn’t able to stay with his compatriot for much longer and faded slightly in the closing few kilometres.

Kimutai, meanwhile, forged on ahead and crossed the line in 2:10:34. Saekwo held on to second place in 2:12:01 while Kozlowski took third in 2:12:38.

Jeffrey Eggleston, who has represented the USA at three World Championships, was 13th at 15km and ninth at 30km but finished strongly to take fourth place in 2:14:00.

Like men’s winner Kimutai, Nastassia Ivanova of Belarus had never before stood on the top step of the podium in a marathon. Since making her debut over the classic distance in 2011, she has achieved two runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes. But today the Olympian was able to savour marathon victory for the first time.

With no pacemaker for the women, a lead quintet of five emerged and they passed through 10km in 35:40. Having contested the Daegu Marathon just three weeks ago, Ukraine’s Olga Kotovska was the first of the early leaders to drift back, leaving Ivanova, Poland’s Izabela Trzaskalska, Ethiopia’s Muluhubt Tsega and Kenya’s Viola Yator to go through the half-way mark in 1:14:10.

The four women ran together and exchanged leads for another 15 kilometres. By 35km, Yator and Tsega had opened a 17-second gap on their east European rivals, but Ivanova had enough in reserve at the end to catch the lead duo and eventually overtake them.

The 34-year-old went on to win by more than a minute in 2:28:44, the second-best time of her career. Trzaskalska took second place in 2:29:56, taking almost six minutes off her PB, while Yator was third in 2:30:03.

Comment

The 13th edition of the DOZ Lodz Marathon on Sunday (23) will also be the third occasion that the race is part of the IAAF Silver Label Road Race series. A strong African-dominated field in the men's race, led by Kenya's Jafred Kipchumba, will be vying for the race’s first sub-2:10 performance in the history of the race. Agnieszka Mierzejewska of Poland will start as favourite among the women.

East African men have won five of the last six editions of the race, a streak likely to continue this year with Kenyans and Ethiopians dominating the elite field. The current course record, 2:10:02 set by Belachew Ameta four years ago, may come under threat as this year's race includes two men with much faster personal bests.

Heading the entry list is the 33 year old Kimpchumba. The highlight of his career was the victory in Eindhoven back in 2011 with 2:05:48. The Kenyan was also the winner in Milan in 2010 and the runner-up in Toronto the same year, with 2:09:15 and 2:08:10, respectively. More recently, he took second in Sevilla in 2015 and third in Barcelona in 2016, both with times just outside 2:10, a barrier he might challenge in Lodz. 

The most serious challenge to Kipchumba may come from his compatriot Samson Barmao. The 35-year old has bettered 2:10 six times in his career, including the 2:08:52 he ran to take second place in Rome in 2012. His only marathon victory came in Cologne in 2011, but he has finished in the top three in several races, including Eindhoven and Daegu. The race in Lodz will be his first marathon outing since taking fourth place in Warsaw in the autumn of 2014.

Another man with experience of running on Polish roads is the Etiopian Abdisa Sori, who finished eighth in the Orlen Warsaw Marathon two years ago in 2:10:04, a time which remains his best. His resume also includes two other races in the 2:10 range and two marathon victories, in Caen and Cannes.

Wosen Zeleke is another Ethiopian contender, and like his countryman, he set his personal best in the Polish capital, taking fourth place in the Warsaw Marathon in 2013 with 2:10:56.

Agnieszka Mierzejewska starts as the fastest athlete in the women's field. The 31-year old set her PB in the DOZ Lodz Marathon two years ago with 2:30:55 to take second place. Last year she repeated her runner-up finish in the race and took eighth place in Chicago, finishing just over 2:32 on both occasions. She also finished a creditable ninth in the half marathon at the European Championships. Mierzejewska's one marathon victory came at the Warsaw Marathon in 2012 and she appears in a good position to make it two.

The strongest opposition to the Pole may be Kenza Dahmani of Algeria. The 2016 Olympian also finished third in last year's Rome marathon in a time of 2:33:53. She is also an accomplished half marathon specialist with 1:11:28 to her name.

Another potential contender is Amelework Bosho of Ethiopia, whose fastest ever is 2:32:39 from Valencia in 2012. The 30-year old has won two marathons, in Treviso and Palermo, both in 2010.

Comment

An element of intrigue surrounds Kenyan duo Bedan Karoki and Abel Kirui ahead of this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon. Kirui is an experienced athlete who won the world marathon title in 2009 and 2011 during a ‘purple patch’ in his career. He last ran London in 2012 where he finished fifth, going on to win Olympic silver just four months later.

After a quiet period disrupted by injuries, he returned in style to win the 2016 Chicago Marathon last October – an upturn in form he credits to his coach, Renato Canova – and he is now targeting selection for Kenya’s 2017 World Championship team.

“Training is good,” he said. “I ran 61:30 in Barcelona (in February 2017) and made progress. I have no injuries, good mood and no stress.

“I hadn’t been performing well, but we had a strategy. I obeyed Renato’s programme and now I’m back on the right track.”

Karoki, who makes his debut, could well be a surprise package.

The world half marathon silver medallist ran a fast 59:10 half marathon in Ra’s Al Kaymah, in the United Arab Emirates, in February – the quickest half marathon time in the world this year – and says his preparation since has gone well.

While his potential over the full marathon is unknown, he is confident of running a solid debut.

“I believe I can run a good time,” he said. “I’m not scared, my preparation has been good, it’s been consistent. I’m expecting to run between 2:04 and 2:07. I’ll see how I feel and what position I’m in, but maybe I can run 2:05.”

The 26-year-old attended high school in Japan and raced on the Japanese circuit as a youngster. He’s been compared to former Olympic champion and London Marathon winner Samuel Wanjiru who also studied in Japan, learning his trade on the Japanese cross country circuit before becoming a world-class marathon runner with a best of 2:05:10.

Perhaps it’s an unfair comparison at this stage of his career, but Karoki says he benefited from his time in Japan where he “learned how to train, how to keep time and be organised”.

These are key attributes for marathon success and will stand him in good stead for his debut this Sunday, and a possible return to London this summer alongside Kirui as part of Kenya’s marathon team.

Comment

If the brief history of the IAAF World Relays is to be relied upon, then it appears the US, Kenya and Poland will duke it out for the title in the men’s 4x800m final on Sunday night.

The US are reigning champions, having obliterated their opposition to win in a swift 7:04.84 here in 2015, five seconds ahead of Poland. They return with an equally formidable line-up this year, headed by Olympic 800m bronze medallist Clayton Murphy, who started his season in superlative fashion with a world-leading time of 1:43.60 at the Mt Sac Relays last weekend.  

He will be backed up by a squad boasting the talents of Casimir Loxsom, Erik Sowinski, Charles jock and Brandon Kidder.

On paper, Kenya appears to be the team with the best chance of deposing the US, with Ferguson Rotich, Timothy Kitum, Alfed Kipketer, Job Kinyor and Kipyegon Bett in their ranks. They took the title at the inaugural edition of this event in 2014, narrowly edging Poland after a thrilling final leg.

Bett clocked a noteworthy 1:44.2 in Nairobi earlier this month, where he led home Cheruiyot (1:44.7) and Kipketer (1:45.5). For good measure, both Kinyor and Kitum also ran faster than 1:46 in the same race, giving the Kenyans impressive strength in depth heading to Nassau.

The same can be said for Poland, whose team is headed up by world class duo Adam Kszczot and Marcin Lewandowski, whose tactical nous will prove a major asset in this relay format. They were part of the Polish teams which finished second in 2014 and 2015, and with 1:44.89 man Artur Kuciapski in their ranks, they are a team worthy of respect.

The Australian team, which includes Luke Matthews and Jordan Williamsz, should contend for a top-three finish, but are unlikely to challenge for the win.

Comment

Team-mates of Kenya's Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong have condemned her after she failed an out-of-competition drugs test. Sumgong was supposed to run at the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday (April 23), where she would have been defending the title she won 12 months ago. 

Instead, she is facing a four-year suspension after testing positive for the banned substance erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone which boosts red blood cells.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) revealed earlier this month that a case has been opened against the runner, who triumphed in the women’s marathon at Rio 2016 in a time of 2 hours 24min 04sec.

Several leading runners from Kenya are due to compete in this year's London Marathon but there are increasing suspicions over the performances of runners from that country following a number of high-profile doping cases.

The harshest criticism of Sumgong came from Florence Kiplagat, the Commonwealth Games 10,000 metres silver medallist. 

"For me it really embarrasses the sport," she said. 

"I am really ashamed. 

"I am ashamed because we are losing top athletes like that."

Sumgong's B-test still has to be analysed so she is technically not guilty of a doping offence.

But there was no sympathy for her among her countrywomen.

"I never ever imagined that it would happen," said the three-time New York City Marathon winner Mary Keitany. 

"I want to end my career clean. 

"I don't want such a mess. 

"My message is don't try to cheat. 

"It's really embarrassing, not good."

Vivian Cheruiyot, the Olympic 5,000m champion, urged Sumgong to cooperate with the authorities and help them uncover who helped her dope.

"She knows that she went for that injection [for EPO]," she said.  

"She can't say she didn't know.

"We love sport and we love clean sport.

"I remember [her winning] in Rio and that everyone was happy for Kenya. 

"If she is using something it is very disappointing."

The race here on Sunday is also due to feature Ethopia's Mare Dibaba, the bronze medallist at Rio 2016 behind Sumgong. 

"It’s very bad and it falls very hard on me to know that the Olympic marathon champion may have doped," she said. 

Another top Kenyan female runner, Rita Jeptoo, a three-time winner of the Boston Marathon, was banned in 2016 for four-years after also testing positive for EPO. 

Sumgong tested positive following a test funded by Abbott World Marathon Majors, a group of six of the world's leading marathon races, including London.

The scheme was established in conjunction with the IAAF with an aim of requiring more than 150 runners to submit to out-of-competition testing a minimum of six times a year.

Sumgong was leading Series X of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, which concluded at the Boston Marathon last Monday (April 17), and would have won $500,000 (£390,000/€467,000). 

A Series X winner will not now be announced until the investigation into Sumgong is completed.

"We are at the forefront of ensuring integrity in our sport," Hugh Brasher, the race director of the London Marathon, told insidethegames here today. 

"It's incredibly disappointing that I heard of the positive test of last year's champion. 

"If there is a positive out of the disappointment it is that the testing was paid for by an organisation that we are part of. 

"We are determined to stamp out any cheating. 

"We will test people again and again."

Comment

Two-time world champion Edna Kiplagat and relative unknown Geoffrey Kirui were crowned champions today at the 121st running of the Boston Marathon, the first double win for Kenya in five years. Each won the IAAF Gold Label Road Race with a single devastating move at strategic points in the race which their competition could not answer. Kiplagat ran 2:21:52, and Kirui 2:09:37.

Kiplagat, who started with the other elite women 28 minutes before the mass start, was the first to lock up victory. The women’s pack maintained a brisk pace of about 3:26 per km early on, led largely by 2011 runner-up Desiree Linden. Linden, whose best races come from an even pace, wanted to thin the pack down early, and she did, with the size of the pack shrinking to eight by halfway and five as the course crossed into Newton after the 25-kilometre mark. 

“I wanted to be pushing the first 10k,” Linden said. “If it was a respectable pace I would have just tucked in, but there were so many fast women in that pack I couldn’t let them take it easy. If we made it a half-marathon I wouldn’t have as much of a chance.” 

Linden was right to be wary of Kiplagat, a past winner in New York (2010) and London (2014) as well as a two-time world champion (2011 in Daegu and 2013 in Moscow). In the course of pushing the pace, though, Linden ended the hopes of defending champion Atsede Baysa and former winner Caroline Rotich. Climbing up into Newton after crossing the Charles River in Lower Falls, it was Linden, Kiplagat, Rose Chelimo, Jordan Hasay, and Valentine Kipketer in the pack, with Gladys Cherono struggling to stay in contact.

Those five mostly held together for another five kilometres, but on the second of three hills in Newton, Kiplagat abruptly accelerated, dropping from a 5:33 mile pace on the first hill to a 4:50 cresting the second. Then Kiplagat followed up with a 5:23 mile on the last and best-known of the hills, the one called “Heartbreak Hill." 

“I broke away at 30k, I was feeling good and I tried to work extra hard. We knew the profile of the course so I knew I had to increase my strength.”

The race was functionally over at that point, but there was one last scare at the 35-kilometre fluid station, where Kiplagat expected to find her bottle on the second table when it was actually on the third. After mistakenly picking up another athlete’s bottle, Kiplagat actually went back to replace it on the second table before getting her own.

She continued looking over her shoulder but Rose Chelimo, the one who’d come closest to actually covering Kiplagat’s move, was almost a minute behind at the finish. Chelimo’s second-place time was 2:22:51. Hasay was third in 2:23:00, a successful debut marathon, and Linden was fourth in 2:25:06.

Kiplagat, 38, is the oldest woman to win in Boston since Michiko Gorman (42) in 1977. She brought two of her children to the awards stand to accept her traditional laurel wreath and trophy.

“I’m happy to be here with my family, my kids helped me when I was training for this race so I am glad I can share this victory with them.”

Course record holder Buzunesh Deba was seventh in 2:30:58, and Linden’s teammate Dot McMahan was the masters winner, finishing 14th in 2:36:28.

Geoffrey Kirui flew completely under the radar before the race, his best previous marathon being a third-place debut in Rotterdam last year and his PB a 2:06:27 for seventh in Amsterdam. But the 24-year-old asserted after the race, “In my mind, I was sure that one day I would win this race.”

The men’s pack stayed together much longer than the women, with former world record holder Emmanuel Mutai doing much of the pace work as the field wandered towards Boston. Unlike Linden, Mutai seemed disinterested in setting a fast pace, with the average mile hovering around 4:55 well past halfway.

Things began getting interesting in much the same part of the race as the year before, around 25 kilometres as the course descends into Lower Falls to cross the Charles from Wellesley into Newton. Olympic bronze medallist Galen Rupp moved to the front of the pack and although the pace didn’t improve, the size of the pack began to shrink. Mutai, defending champion Lemi Berhanu Hayle, and several others came off the pace.

The faces remaining, in addition to Kirui, Rupp, and Wilson Chebet, were not ones who would have been picked to be in the lead pack this late. American veteran Abdi Abdirahman, dominating the masters race; Colorado-based Augustus Maiyo, wearing the improbable bib number of 63; and Oregon-based Japanese Suguru Osako.

Eventually a duel developed between Rupp and Kirui, with the duo putting a dozen seconds on Osako coming up to 35 kilometres. After passing that marker, Kirui stomped on the accelerator, covering the 24th mile in 4:28, by far the fastest of the race. Rupp couldn’t answer the bell at that point, and the remaining two miles for Kirui were an extended victory lap.

Rupp came in second at 2:09:58, with Osako third in 2:10:28.

“I knew, coming here to Boston, I was going to face my colleagues who have run many times here,” said Kirui. “I was not aware that I was going to win, but I knew that I would challenge some of the champions who have been competing here.”

Osako was also thrilled with his performance. “I was very nervous and grateful for the Boston experience,” he said. “Once I relaxed, I started doing better.”

Although the athletes enjoyed a tailwind in many parts of the course, winds were gusty and occasionally met the runners head on. More challenging, especially for the mass participants, was the heat, with temperatures around 20 C at the start and rising slightly during the race.

Some 27,228 runners in four waves crossed the starting line in Hopkinton to make the trip in to Boston this year.

Comment

Rachael Jemutai won the  Nagano Marathon on Sunday  making it quite one-sided with the decisive move being made early on.

Soon after the start, Rachel Jemutai Mutgaa broke away from the chase pack with Miriam Wangari and Famtu Eticha in tow. By five kilometres the trio was more than 50 seconds ahead of Mayumi Uchiyama who in turn was 26 seconds ahead of Aki Otagiri.

Mutgaa then broke away from both Eticha and Wangari, and by 10km Mutgaa was nearly 20 seconds ahead of her two African rivals. Mutgaa then continued to extend her lead all the way to the finish line, winning in 2:33:00.

Famtu Eticha finished second but she was more than four minutes behind the winner Mutgaa. Wangari finished third, more than a minute behind Eticha, while the first Japanese was Aki Otagiri in fourth.

Leading results

1 Rachel Jemutai Mutgaa (KEN) 2:33:00
2 Famtu Eticha (ETH) 2:37:10
3 Miriam Wangari (KEN) 2:38:29
4 Aki Otagiri (JPN) 2:41:26

Comment

Japan’s Taiga Ito came from behind in the final five kilometres of the Nagano Marathon on Sunday (15) to win the IAAF.

After covering the opening five kilometres in a modest 16:13, Tatsunori Hamasaki and Jun-ichi Shioya broke away from the lead pack in the men’s race. By 10km they led the chase pack which included Ito, Kenya’s Henry Sugut, Mongolia’s Ser-Od Bat-Ochir and Uganda’s Moses Kibet by 14 seconds. Shioya and Hamasaki increased their lead to 21 seconds by 15km, and then further extended it to 31 seconds by 20km.

However, starting at 20km, Bat-Ochir broke away from the pack and started to chase the two leaders Hamasaki and Shioya. Shioya soon began to falter and he was passed by the chase pack before 25km. Bat-Ochir also caught Hamasaki to move into the lead, while the chase pack, including winner Ito, was about 15 seconds behind.

Bat-Ochir’s lead had grown to more than 30 seconds at 30km, but Ito began to make up ground. Just five kilometres later, he trailed the Mongolian by just 15 seconds, and he eventually caught him at 37km.

Ito went on to win in 2:14:39, crossing the line 33 seconds in front of Bat-Ochir. The 30-year-old became just the third Japanese runner to win the Nagano Marathon in its 19-year history. Ito, who earlier this year set a PB of 2:10:52, had finished third in Nagano in 2016 and 2014 and fifth in 2015.

Yuki Oshikawa was third in 2:15:27, 15 seconds behind Bat-Ochir, while debutant Kazuki Onishi finished fourth in 2:15:39. Early leader Hamasaki was fifth in 2:15:49

Leading results

1 Taiga Ito (JPN) 2:14:39
2 Ser-od Bat-Ochir (MGL) 2:15:12
3 Yuki Oshikawa (JPN) 2:15:27
4 Kazuki Onishi (JPN) 2:15:39
5 Tatsunori Hamasaki (JPN) 2:15:49

Comment

The 19th edition of the Nagano Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Sunday will see a have Kenyans Miriam Wangari and Rachael Mutgaa feature in the race even as Fantu Enticha posses a great threat to the pair.

The women’s field features a pair of runners who'll bring sub-2:28 credentials to the start line: Fantu Eticha of Ethiopia and Miriam Wangari of Kenya. Eticha produced her best of 2:26:14 in the 2015 Dubai Marathon while Wangari's best of 2:27:53 came in the Xiamen Marathon that same year.

The two have met head-to-head twice, splitting their two encounters. In the 2016 Xiamen Marathon Eticha was third with 2:26:53 and Wangari fifth in 2:33:27; four months later at the Yellow River Marathon in May, Wangari was second in 2:31:22 and Eticha fourth with 2:32:32.

A third entrant from abroad is Racheal Mutgaa but with no sub-2:30 or sub-1:13 performances to her credit in the marathon or half marathon, she isn't expected to challenge for the win.

Leading the domestic field is Aki Otagiri, with a best of 2:30:24 from the 2015 Nagoya Women’s Marathon. Yumiko Kinoshita, who has a 2:35:49 best also from 2015, is also in the field. Kinoshita has run twice in Nagano, finishing fifth in 2014 and third in 2015.

Former greats have also been invited to participate as guests outside of the elite competition. They include 2000 Olympic marathon champion Naoko Takahashi, 1988 Olympic Eriko Asahi, world 100km record holder Takahiro Sunada and 2009 Tokyo Marathon winner Mizuho Nasukawa.

The race dates back to 1999, a year after Nagano hosted the Winter Olympic Games to commemorate those Games. Organisers expect 10,000 runners to take part. They have five hours to complete the course.

Invited runners (with PBs):
 
MEN -
Henry Sugut, KEN, 2:06:58 (2012 Wien)
Moses Kibet, UGA, 2:13:55 (2016 Chunchon), 1:01:37 half marathon
Okubay Tsegay, ERI, Debut, 1:03:10 half marathon
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir, MGL, 2:08:50 (2014 Fukuoka)
Cyrus Njui, KEN, 2:09:10 (2011 Tokyo)
Taiga Ito, JPN, 2:10:52 (2017 Beppu-Oita)
Tatsunori Hamasaki, JPN, 2:12:12 (2015 Tokyo)
Shota Yamaguchi, JPN, 2:13:13 (2015 Nagano)
Yuki Oshikawa, JPN, 2:13:24 (2014 Lake Biwa)
 
WOMEN
Fantu Eticha, ETH, 2:26:14 (2015 Dubai)
Miriam Wangari, KEN, 2:27:53 (2015 Xiamen)
Racheal Mutgaa, KEN, 2:30:11 (2015 Guangzhou)
Aki Otagiri, JPN, 2:30:24 (2015 Nagoya)
Yumiko Kinoshita, JPN, 2:35:49 (2015 Tokyo)
 

Comment

Kenyan Henry Sugut and Moses Kibet of Uganda will start as the men to watch at the 19th edition of the Nagano Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Sunday.

Sugut is the fastest runner in the field with a best of 2:06:58 recorded in the 2012 Vienna Marathon. However, the 31-year-old hasn’t cracked 2:10 since April of 2013. Most recently he clocked 2:12:40 at the Cannes Marathon last November.

Kibet meanwhile, with a more modest 2:13:55 lifetime best set at last year's Chunchon Marathon, might be the man to beat, given his 13:15.18 personal best over 5000m on the track and a recent 1:01:55 victory at a half marathon in Madrid just 12 days ago.

A third invited runner from abroad is Okbay Tsegay of Eritrea, who'll be making the marathon debut. He'll arrive armed with best of 28:25.29 for 10,000m from 2016 and 1:03:10 for the half marathon from 2015.

Ser-Od Bat-Ochir of Mongolia, who lives and trains in Japan, is also in the field, and with a 2:08:50 personal best from the 2014 Fukuoka Marathon, is the second fastest among the starters.

Bat-Ochir is one of the most prolific marathoners in the world, having contested at least four 42.2km races each year since 2010. Last year, he ran seven including Nagano where he was second. His last race was October's Osaka Marathon where he was fourth in 2:13:43. His last respectable race was at the 2015 Hamburg Marathon where he was sixth in 2:10:15.

Another runner who lives and runs for a Japanese corporate team is Kenyan Cyrus Njui, who has a personal best of 2:09:10 set in Tokyo in 2011. More recently he clocked 2:14:48 at last August's Sapporo Marathon where he finished second.

Leading the domestic field is Taigo Ito, who finished third in this race one year ago. In this year’s Beppu-Oita Marathon, Ito improved his personal best by 17 seconds to 2:10:52. He's run in Nagano three times, finishing third in 2014 and 2016 and fifth in 2015. Since his 2:10:52 is the fastest recorded among the entrants in the last three years, Ito may be in the best form on Sunday. If he wins he'll be just the second Japanese after Yuki Kawauchi to claim the title.

Other Japanese runners in the field include Tatsunori Hamasaki, who has a best of 2:12:12 from the 2015 Tokyo Marathon, Shota Yamaguchi, who has a 2:13:13 from the 2015 Nagano Marathon, and Yuki Oshikawa, who recorded his 2:13:24 personal best at Lake Biwa in 2014.

Comment

Both course records could be attacked at the Vienna City Marathon on 23rd April. With deeper elite fields than in recent editions organisers hope to see fast winning times. Current course records stand at 2:05:41 and 2:23:47. With personal bests of 2:05:21 and 2:23:26 Kenya’s Eliud Kiptanui and Meseret Mengistu of Ethiopia are the fastest athletes on the start list. Arond 9,000 runners have entered the 34th edition of the Vienna City Marathon, which is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race. Adding other running events staged parallel to the marathon a total of more than 42,000 athletes have so far been registered. The Vienna City Marathon is Austria’s biggest sporting event. Late registration is only available for accompanying races on Saturday (22nd April), namely the new Vienna 10K race and kids runs.

Eight runners with personal bests of sub 2:09 are currently on the men’s elite start list. Two of them have run under 2:06: Eliud Kiptanui clocked 2:05:21 in Berlin two years ago while Ethiopia’s Deribe Robi ran 2:05:58 in Eindhoven in 2015. Five more athletes feature personal records between 2:09 and 2:11. Among them is Vincent Kipchumba, also known as Vincent Toroitich, who ran a fine race at the Berlin Half Marathon recently. The Kenyan was entered as a pacemaker into the Berlin race but continued after his duties and finished with a PB of 60:32 in second position. A debutant could produce a surprise as well: Uganda’s Geoffrey Kusuro features a fine half marathon PB of 59:43.

While Getu Feleke of Ethiopia established the course record of 2:05:41 three years ago the women’s mark is much older. Maura Viceconte clocked 2:23:47 back in 2000. The record of the Italian has been targeted a number of times in the past editions of the Vienna City Marathon but somehow always survived. This year’s elite race start list suggests that the mark could finally go.

Half a dozen women have been entered who have already run under 2:26:30. Meseret Mengistu is the fastest on the start list: Two years ago the Ethiopian won the Paris Marathon with 2:23:26. „In better weather conditions I could have run 2:22 today,“ said Shuko Genemo, when she took the Vienna City Marathon a year ago in very windy conditions. The Ethiopian clocked her PB of 2:24:31 in that race and now returns to Vienna as the defending champion. Running her debut Angela Tanui looks to have the potential to make an immediate impact over the classic distance. The Kenyan ran five half marathons in a row with sub 70 minutes’ results. While her personal record stands at 67:16 from 2016 she recently was second in the Rome Ostia race with 67:43.

Comment

Stanley Biwott has been forced to withdraw from the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon with a persistent hamstring injury.

Biwott, who won the 2015 New York City Marathon, was Kenya’s leading hope to win the prestigious men’s title on 23 April. Kenyan athletes have won 11 of the last 13 men’s races, including the last three thanks to Wilson Kipsang and Eliud Kipchoge.

Biwott finished runner-up in 2014, fourth in 2015 and was second again last year in a personal best of 2:03:51 as Kipchoge set a new course record. He has withdrawn from the race because he doesn’t feel able to perform at his best.

“I thought I had the injury under control but in the last 10 days the problem has got worse,” he said. “I don’t feel I can be a protagonist in London this year as usual, but I will come back in 2018 and try to win the race.”

Comment

Athletics Kenya will hold its elections on May 13 2017 in Nairobi. This was arrived at after the special General Meeting at Riadha House setting the elections to start on April 27th at the ward level. The AK county and sub-county level elections will be held on May 2nd and May 6th respectively with regionals elections set to take place on May 9th.

Athletics Kenya has 16 regions that include four institutions; that is the Kenya Defense Forces, Kenya Police Service, Kenya Prisons and the universities. The process at the national level will see delegates elect a Secretary General and the deputy posts that were scrapped during the previous 2013 elections. Jackson Tuwei will be seeking to retain his position as the president.

Comment

Geoffrey Mutai has a torrid love affair with the Ottawa 10k. The Kenyan superstar returns to the Canadian capital for the fourth time in six years to compete in this IAAF Gold Label race (Saturday May 27).

Mutai, a past winner of the Boston, Berlin and New York marathons, is one of the biggest names in the sport and is truly deserving of the title ‘superstar’.Throughout his enviable career, he has experienced both highs and lows and now hopes that Ottawa will see him regain the form to which race fans across the globe have become accustomed.

"I ran there before and I like the race," he says of his decision to return. "I want to build up again and a 10k is what I had in mind."

Out of despair sometimes there comes good fortune. Five years ago, he was dealt a disappointing card, which ultimately led to his relationship with Ottawa. Despite winning the 2011 Boston and New York Marathons he was not chosen for Kenya’s 2012 Olympic team and was forced to alter his training and competition schedule. That was when he added the Ottawa 10k to his calendar.

On what was his first visit to Canada, he promptly destroyed a world-class field. He won the race by an astounding 45 seconds with a time of 27:42. Had it not been for the warm conditions that night, Deriba Merga’s 2009 course record of 27:24 might well have fallen.

A pair of third place finishes in 2013 and 2014 solidified his relationship with the Ottawa event.

Now, 35, and, battling back from a series of injuries that saw him race only twice the past two years, he is cautiously optimistic his comeback will be successful.

"After a long injury and no competition it is not easy to say how my fitness is compared to the past," he reveals. "Training is going well and I hope to run pretty fast in Ottawa. Training is like in the past, except I focus more on speed to run a good 10k. I hope to run 28 minutes in Ottawa."

Mutai has the good fortune of training with a stellar group of distance runners, which includes world marathon record holder Dennis Kimetto, 2012 Olympic marathon bronze medalist Wilson Kipsang and Emmanuel Mutai (no relation), the 2011 London marathon winner. He says he is grateful for their support during his lengthy injury period.

"After the 2015 Berlin marathon (he finished 5th in 2:09:29) I had a stress fracture in my leg," he says. "More recently I had some muscle and tendon issues and I took treatment in the Netherlands and in Kenya.

"It was not always easy but I was very determined to make a comeback. My family, my fellow athletes and my agency (Volare Sports) supported me a lot and always told me to believe in myself and not to give up."

A year ago he lined up for the Ceske Budeovice Half Marathon in Prague expecting to run a time close to 60 minutes. When he finished well beaten in 64 minutes people largely wrote him off. But from the disappointment he was able to extract something positive - a characteristic that has helped him in the past.

"Yes, I had hoped to be better, but I was also happy to run again without pain," he explains. "I needed that to be better next time. I raced a 10k in Trento after that. I ran 29:44 there."

Although much of his day is taken up by training and resting, he is also a family man. He and his wife Beatrice are parents of two young daughters Mereka, 5, and Mishel, 8. And he has also dived into the real estate business building rental housing and other projects. Running,nevertheless, remains a huge priority.

Mutai is aware that his advanced years make it more difficult to handle the heavy training that led him to past victories at the world’s biggest road races. Nevertheless, he cautions the doubters.

"For the marathon, I have nothing planned now," he declares. "Maybe I will do another half marathon after the Ottawa 10k. I hope to run a good marathon again next year.

"I am not yet done with running."

Comment

Running in unseasonably warm conditions, Kenya’s Marius Kimutai and Meskerem Assefa of Ethiopia were the winners at the NN Rotterdam Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday (9). Kimutai won the men’s title in 2:06:04 while Assefa improved her personal best by almost a minute with her winning time of 2:24:17.

In the men’s race, three pacemakers lead the way for a group of 14 runners who were targeting performances in 2:05 territory. The first passage of the Erasmus Bridge was rather fast, with the initial five-kilometre stretch covered in 14:39. At that point race organisers asked the pacemakers to slow their tempo. That resulted in a split of 29:35 at ten kilometres and 44:41 after 15, which still kept the target times in view.

The pre-race plan called for 1:03 at 21 kilometres, a target that was missed by just nine seconds after the 20-kilometre point was reached in 59:20.

While the race unfolded according to schedule, the pace was still too much for Paul Koech, one of history’s fastest 3000m steeplechase specialists, who was making his marathon debut. Before the second passage across the Erasmus Bridge, he lost contact with the leaders and eventually finished 15th clocking 2:12:02.

The intermediate time at 25 kilometres was 1:14:56, with the pace-making trio of Geoffrey Kipyego, Edwin Kiptoo and Mike Kiprotich guiding the field. The latter was the first to drop while the former two took the leaders through 30 kilometres in 1:29:51.

Laban Korir was the first to make a move, pushing the pace to reach 35 kilometres in 1:44:54. A few kilometres later there were only three runners left in this first group: Korir, Lawrence Cherono and Kimutai.

Just before the 40th kilometre, Kimutai injected a 2:55 kilometre split to make his break. Carving out a quick gap, the move proved decisive.

“I’m very happy with this performance,” Kimutai said. “Winning here makes it a big day for me. The race was good. Looking back I must only admit that I started pushing a bit too late to run under 2:06.”

Cherono was second in 2:06:21 and Korir third in 2:06:25.

Kimutai has a PB of 2:05:47 which he set in Amsterdam in October last year, when he finished third. In previous years he won marathons in Danzhou and Rennes.

For Cherono his time in Rotterdam was a hefty improvement on his previous best of 2:07:24, set when winning the Prague Marathon last year.

Last year Korir finished fourth in Amsterdam in 2:05:54, a time he couldn’t improve in today’s warm and sunny Rotterdam run. 

Dutchman Abdi Nageeye finished ninth in 2:09:34, the fastest time by a Dutch athlete on this course. “I did hope to run a bit faster, but I’m glad with my new PB,” said the 28-year-old, who arrived with a 2:10:24 best. “Unfortunately it was a bit too hot and I was on my own during the last part of the race.”

In the women’s race a group of six passed five kilometres in 17:06 and 10 in 33:56, an early pace that proved too much for debutante Hellen Chepkorir, who faded and eventually finished seventh in 2:35:55.

By 15 kilometres (50:47) there were just four women left at the front: Lucy Karimi, Eunice Chumba, Jane Jelegat Seurey and Assefa. The quartet reached the midway point in 1:11:35 and were still together at 30 kilometres where the clock read 1:42:11. 

Seuray was next to give in, dropping back with after 30 kilometres, and eventually finished fourth in 2:26:29. The remaining three reached 35 kilometres in 1:59:36. The final move didn’t come until the final 500 metres on the Coolsinger where Assefa broke away from Chumba en route to her 2:24:18 performance.

Assefa, a former middle distance runner, who won this year’s Houston Marathon, arrived in Rotterdam with a 2:25:12 lifetime best set in Chicago in 2015.

“I’m very happy with this time,” she said. “It gives me the confidence that I can run 2:22 in the future.”

Chumba was second in 2:24:27, also a personal best. She finished third in Amsterdam last year with her former PB of 2:25:00. Karimi was third clocking 2:25:17.

With a temperature of 12C at the start and almost no wind conditions in Rotterdam were warm. The “real feel” reading at the finish was around 18C. But the humidity of 65 to 70 percent was almost perfect. 

Comment

Running in relatively warm conditions, Kenya's Allan Kiprono and Fate Tola of Germany produced convincing victories at the HAJ Hannover Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, on Sunday (9).

In what was his biggest career win, Kiprono clocked 2:09:52 to take the men's race ahead of compatriot Philip Sanga and Norway's Sondre Moen who both clocked 2:10:07 to finish second and third.

In the women's race, Tola clocked 2:27:48 to secure her spot on the German team for the IAAF World Championships London 2017. She was well ahead of Ukraine’s Nataliya Lehonkova and Mulunesh Asefa of Ethiopia, who clocked 2:33:20 and 2:37:27 respectively.

A group of nine runners passed the half marathon mark in 1:05:04, hitting almost exactly their target time of 65 minutes-flat. While there were still eight men running in the lead at 30 kilometres (1:32:33), the group was reduced to five shortly thereafter. It was then that Sanga, the fastest man in the field with a PB of 2:06:07, who took the lead.

The group stretched out, but Kiprono, Moen, defending champion Lusapho April of South Africa and Nicholas Kamakya of Kenya managed to catch Sanga. He pushed the pace again at around the 35-kilometre point, a moved that whittled the field further. April and Kamakya dropped out of contention but Kiprono and Moen continued to give chase.

With thousands of spectators lining the sunny streets, a thrilling battle for the podium positions began. First it was Moen who dropped back, before Kiprono caught and overtook Sanga with about four kilometres to go before forging onwards to finish unthreatened. Moen also passed Sanga just before the 40-kilometre mark, but their positions were reversed as they approached the finish with Sanga squeezing by for second.

For the 27-year-old Kiprono, Hannover was his first marathon victory.

"I had spoken to Philip during the race and suggested that we should work together," said Kiprono, who ran his 2:09:38 personal best in Frankfurt in 2013. "However he wanted do it all alone. When I took the lead I was never sure I would win. I just gave everything."

But he believes he has more to give.

"I want to go back to Frankfurt in October and improve to 2:06 or 2:07," said Kiprono, who is coached by German Dieter Hogen.

"I got stitches and then I had some stomach problems from 33-k on because I drank too much during the race," said the 26-year-old Moen, who was 19th in the 2016 Olympic marathon and whose previous personal best was 2:12:54.

"It was a pity, because my legs were fine, but whenever I tried to run faster the stomach problems stopped me. It is a pity that I could not break 2:10. However I am very happy about the Norwegian record."

The record he broke was set 30 years ago by Geir Kvernmo who clocked 2:10:17 at the 1987 London Marathon.

Behind Sanga and Moen Kenya's Kamakya finished fourth in 2:11:35. April, a three-time Hannover winner and the course record holder, was fifth in 2:11:41. That performance should secure his selection for August's World Championships squad.

Hopes were high for Germany with national record holder Arne Gabius in the field, but the 36-year-old was forced to drop out in the 32nd kilometre with an achilles tendon problem.

Comment

The husband-wife duo of Paul Lonyangata and Purity Rionoripo won their respective titles at the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday (9).

Rionoripo broke the women’s course record clocking 2:20:55 while Longyangata won the men’s race in 2:06:10.

As expected the women’s race provided a wide-open contest. Frenchman Frederic Bouvier, who was responsible for setting the tempo, guided the lead group through the first five kilometres in 16:51 and through ten in 33:32.

The pack passed the halfway checkpoint in 1:10:19 suggesting a winning time well inside the 2:21:06 course record set in 2013 by Feyse Tadesse. Still led by Bouvier, the group was composed of six athletes including Netsanet Gudeta, defending champion Visiline Jepkesho, Yebrgual Melese, Fiomena Cheyech and the Kenyan pair of Rionoripo and Agnes Barsosio.

Just before the 30 kilometre mark, Ethiopia’s Gudeta was the first to fall back, before Melese began to struggle as well with the pace set by Kenya’s Jepkesho.

But she couldn’t handle the pace when Rionoripo produced her first surge at 36 kilometres. The 2015 Lisbon marathon winner hit the 40-kilometre checkpoint in 2:13:31, two seconds ahead of Barsosio and 13 seconds ahead of Jepkesho.

Then Barsosio, who won the 2012 Dusseldorf Marathon, rejoined the leader, which resulted in a fierce battle between the Kenyans in the race’s closing stages. Rionoripo then managed to break away again in the final kilometre and eventually broke the tape in 2:20:55, improving the race record by 11 seconds.

“I’m so happy. It’s a great day for me to win this race,” said Rionoripo, who smashes her lifetime best by nearly four minutes to move up to second on the 2017 world list.

Barsosio came home second, two seconds back while smashing her best by 3:08. Fiomena Cheyech rounded out the podium with a personal best of 2:21:22.

Lonyangata impresses

In the men’s race, a large group of about 20 runners covered the opening slightly downhill five-kilometre stretch in 14:39, suggesting a possible finish time of about 2:03:40, well under the 2:05:04 course record set by Kenenisa Bekele in 2014 in his debut over the distance.

But the tempo soon slowed down as the lead pack reached 10 kilometres in 29:43, a 15:04 split for the second five-kilometre section. Still headed by the pacemakers, the leading group of 15 men went through the halfway point in 1:02:56.

As the last rabbit Simon Cheprot drifted back after reaching 30 kilometres in 1:29:38, the fastest man in the field, Kenyan Stephen Chebogut who holds a 2:05:52 career best, decided to move to the front to test his opponents. At that point there were seven men in contention for the victory including Asbel Kipsang, Abayneh Ayele, Yitayal Atnafu, Lonyangata and Solomon Yego.

One kilometre later Lonyangata made his first move breaking up the lead pack behind him. While Yego, Atnafu and Chebogut managed to stay with him, Ayele and Kipsang began to fade. Lonyangata‘s impressive display of strength was confirmed when he again ratcheted up the pace with four kilometres remaining.

Chebogut couldn’t respond to this attack as Atnafu, ten metres behind the leader, tried to sustain the rhythm and stick with Lonyangata. But Lonyangata proved the stronger, continuing to extend his lead. He eventually crossed the line in 2:06:10, 1:07 faster than his previous best.

“I feel very good, my goal was to win,” said the 24-year-old Kenyan, who collected his first marathon victory since winning in Shanghai two years ago. “The conditions were perfect.”

Chebogut, who won the 2015 Eindhoven Marathon, finished second in 2:06:58, 15 seconds ahead of Yego.

The first Frenchman, Hassan Chahdi, finished 12th in a PB of 2:10:20, well under the 2:12:00 qualifying standard for the IAAF World Championships London 2017.

Quentin Guillon for the IAAF
Leading Results -
Men:
 1. Paul Lonyangata (KEN) 2:06:10
 2. Stephen Chebogut (KEN) 2:06:58
 3. Solomon Yego (KEN) 2:07:13
 4. Yitayal Atnafu (ETH) 2:07:19
 5. Abayneh Ayele (ETH) 2:07:40
 
Women:
 1. Purity Rionoripo (KEN) 2:20:55
 2. Agnes Barsosio (ETH) 2:20:57
 3. Fiomena Cheyech (ETH) 2:21:22
 4. Visiline Jepkesho (KEN) 2:21:36
 5. Yebrgual Melese (ETH) 2:22:51

Comment

Athletics Kenya came out strongly today to condemn any violation of the anti-doping rules in the country or even abroad. This comes after the reigning Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong was declared to have failed a drug test by the IAAF.

A statement released by Athletics Kenya read “…the information contained in the notifications and also carried in the press, if true, is extremely shocking and disappointing not only to Athletics Kenya but to the entire nation of Kenya."

However, the track and field governing body in country, is still unable to make further comments regarding the matter as they await the completion of the process and full information from the IAAF. This is also to protect the rights of the athlete as the matter is highly confidential and still can’t be made public.

Sumgong tested positive for a banned substance EPO in an out of competition test carried out by the IAAF.

Amidst the rising number of doping cases in the country, the international community is starting to doubt the legitimacy of Kenya’s mastery of the middle and long distant races. A worrying trend in deed as officials estimate about 50 athletes testing positive for banned substances in the last four years.

Nevertheless, Athletics Kenya made an assurance that it, together with the government of Kenya and other anti-body agencies, is working tirelessly to ensure the right measures are put in place to fight and eradicate the use and abuse of prohibited substances.

The body also advised its athletes to acquaint themselves with the WADA prohibited lists of substances and have also warned that any non-compliant athlete will face the full force of the law.

Comment

Jemima Sumgong, the first Kenyan woman to win Olympic marathon gold when she triumphed at Rio in 2016, has failed an out-of-competition dope test, reports have claimed. 

The 32-year-old, who is also the reigning London Marathon champion, tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO in a test by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in her native Kenya, the BBC reported. 

"We can confirm that an anti-doping rule violation case concerning Jemima Sumgong has commenced this week," www.bbc.com quoted the IAAF as saying in a statement. 

"The athlete tested positive for EPO following a no-notice test in Kenya."

 

Comment

Freshly-minted world record* holder Joyciline Jepkosgei will be returning to action at the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on 23 April, organisers have announced.

The 23-year-old Jepkosgei produced one of the most stunning international breakout performances in recent years when she broke four world records at the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon on 1 April. The Kenyan clocked 1:04:52 to shatter the previous mark by 14 seconds after also taking down world records* for 10km, 15km and 20km en route to her triumph.

She'll be the focus of attention in the central Japanese city of Gifu, in a race that will also feature Ethiopian Belaynesh Oljira, Kenyan Philes Ongori and Mimi Belete of Bahrain.

Oljira, who boasts a 1:07:27 lifetime best, returns to action after her eighth place finish at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017 on 26 March.

Ongori, the runner-up at the World Half Marathon Championships in 2009, has a 1:07:38 career best, while Belete clocked her personal best of 1:09:14 in February.

Leading the men's field will be Kenyans Bernard Kipyego and Kenneth Keter. Kipyego, 30, a two-time winner at the Amsterdam Marathon, has a 59:10 half marathon lifetime best.

Keter, 20, ran his 59:48 personal best last year, and most recently finished fourth in the Paris Half Marathon on 5 March where he clocked 1:01:50. He was also fourth in this race in 2016.

The women's course record of 1:08:55 was set last year by two-time winner Eunice Kirwa of Kenya. The men's course record of 1:00:02 was set by Kenyan Bedan Karoki in 2014.

Comment

The IAAF Diamond League gets underway in Doha with the first meeting of the 2017 series being held on 5 May and IAAF has revealed the cash prizes

In its biggest restructure since the series began in 2010, this year’s IAAF Diamond League will adopt a championship-style model whereby athletes earn points at the first 12 meetings to qualify for the two finals.

In previous seasons, athletes accumulated points throughout the IAAF Diamond League season with the overall winner of each of the 32 events being the athlete with the most points, irrespective of whether they won the final.

This year, the winners of each discipline in the finals will be crowned as IAAF Diamond League champions, earning a $50,000 bonus and the Diamond Trophy.

The scoring system has also changed for 2017. Whereas previously only the top six finishers in each event earned points, the top eight will now be rewarded. Eight points will go to the winner, seven points to second place and so on, with one point going to the athlete in eighth place.

Each discipline will be staged six or four times before the finals. At the end of the 12 qualification meetings, the top seven, eight or 12 athletes (depending on the discipline) will be invited to compete in the final. In case of a tie, the best legal performance of the qualification phase wins.

At each of the 12 qualification meetings, all disciplines have the same prize money:

1st – US$10,000
2nd – US$6000
3rd – US$4000
4th – US$3000
5th – US$2500
6th – US$2000
7th – US$1500
8th – US$1000

plus rewards for ninth-12th place finishers in distance races and ninth-lane runners in sprints.

The prize money is increased for the finals:

1st – US$50,000
2nd – US$20,000
3rd – US$10,000
4th – US$6000
5th – US$5000
6th – US$4000
7th – US$3000
8th – US$2000

With a dramatic end-of-season showdown between the world’s best athletes, the IAAF Diamond League finals will now offer a true climax to a four-month race across four continents.

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World U20 800m champion Kipyegon Bett and Ferguson Rotich, the 2016 Diamond Race winner in the 800m, lead Kenya's 30-member squad to the IAAF/BTC World Relays Bahamas 2017 in Nassau on 22-23 April.

Comment

Kenyan Luka Rotich Lobuwan cruised to the title at the 11th Santiago de Chile Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Sunday.

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