Regasa Mindaye of Ethiopia and Sheila Jerotich of Kenya took impressive victories at the 7th edition of the Orlen Warsaw Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label road race, on Sunday (14).
Mindaye prevailed in a sprint finish against Kenyan Ezekiel Omullo to take victory in 2:09:42 while Jerotich produced a negative split en route to a new course record of 2:26:06, over a minute and a half ahead of fellow Kenyan Antonina Kwambai.
A brisk pace was set in the initial kilometres of the men’s race, with the leaders reaching 10km in 30:28 and the midway point in 1:04:05. By that point, the lead group was reduced to three: defending champion Omullo, Mindaye and Werkunesh Seyoum of Ethiopia, with the nearest pursuers, including Berhane Tsegay of Eritrea and the leading Pole Marcin Chabowski, nearly half a minute in arrears.
The pace slowed somewhat in the second half, but the top three continued to build on their lead. At 30km, it was nearly a minute, and it grew to more than a minute and half by 35km, reached by the leaders in 1:47:31.
It was around that point that Seyoum started to lose contact. Meanwhile, Mindaye and Omullo stayed together over the remaining kilometres, running neck and neck with 300 metres to go. Then, the Ethiopian launched his kick and it gradually became clear his rival was unable to respond.
Mindaye pulled away in the finishing straight crossing the finish line seven seconds ahead of Omullo, who clocked 2:09:49. Mindaye’s winning time was a new personal best for the Ethiopian who sliced more than minute from his two-year old mark of 2:10:51. Seyoum held on for third, exactly one minute behind the winner.
Further back, Chabowski finished fourth in 2:13:10 to add the national marathon title to his long lost of national titles he has accumulated over shorter distances.
In the women’s race, a lead group of five emerged early on, composed of Kenyans Jerotich, Kwambai, and Gladys Yator and Ethiopians Fantu Zewude Jifar and Hemila Wortessa. The leaders built more than a minute’s lead by the halfway point, reached in 1:13:09.
Yator and Zewude started to lose ground soon after, with Wortesa the next to be dropped. By the time the Kenyan duo reached 30km in 1:44:15, their lead was already 42 seconds.
Soon after came the decisive move. Jerotich pulled away shortly before the 35km mark and ran an impressive 17:06, the fastest split of the race, over the next 5km.
Already assured of the win, Jerotich continued to push the pace to the finish, intent on earning a course record bonus. That effort was well rewarded, as she finished in 2:26:06, 19 seconds under the old mark set by Fatuma Sado in 2015. The time was also a big personal best for the winner, whose previous fastest was 2:27:34, and a new Polish all-comers record.
Kwambai was well beaten in the end, but could nonetheless be pleased with a second place and a time of 2:27:43 in her marathon debut. With Wortesa a non-finisher, Nina Savina of Belarus came through for third in 2:29:06, a personal best by more than four and a half minutes. Another debutante, Viktoriya Kalyuzhna of Ukraine, was fourth in 2:30:04.
Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF