EDNA KIPLAGAT LEADS KENYAN SWEEP IN WOMEN’S MARATHON

     Surviving a hard fall at a water stop at 37k, where she tangled legs with her final challenger, countrywoman Sharon Cherop, Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat recovered quickly, then sped free to win the women’s World Championship Marathon yesterday in steamy Daegu, South Korea. Kiplagat’s gold was teamed with Cherop’s silver, while yet another Kenyan, Priscah Jeptoo, held off a fast closing Buzenesh Bekele of Ethiopia to complete an unprecedented sweep of the medal stand for the proud East African nation.

It was a true test of  patience, strength, and performance as by the 9 a.m. race start the temperature had already climbed to 77F, and the humidity clung like a rubber suit at 84%.  The 55 entrants from 23 nations ran accordingly, recording the slowest splits up to 30k in championship history.  Over the flat, three lap course touring downtown Daegu they hit half-way in 1:16:43, eight-seconds slower than during the oppressive 2007 World Champs in Osaka, Japan won by another Kenyan star Catherine Ndereba.

A large pack joined forces early on, but kept loosely congealed in the stultfying air. The first leader of note was Japan’s Azusa Nojiri, a 2:25:29 12th placer from April’s London Marathon.  Portugal’s Marisa Barros, sixth in Berlin’s World Champs 2009 hung nearby, while the favored Kenyans, Chinese, Japanese, and Ethiopians maintained close positioning spread along the wide Daegu boulevards.  American Tera Moody of Colorado Springs was the lone Yank in the lead contingent. She placed 28th at the Berlin World Champs in 2009, and posted a PR 2:30:53 in Chicago last fall.

With conditions so brutal it was no surprise that no surges emerged over the first two 15k loops. This would turn into what former men’s marathon world record holder, Khalid Khannouchi called “a long run followed by a short race.”  Daegu’s would be a slow dance, not a cha-cha. Continue reading