BMW Frankfurt Marathon

Vincent Kipruto and Caroline Kilel make it a Kenyan day in Frankfurt’s stormy weather

Kenyans Vincent Kipruto and Caroline Kilel triumphed in the 32nd BMW Frankfurt Marathon, where stormy and wet weather ruined hopes for record performances. Kipruto braved high winds to clock 2:06:15, beating fellow-Kenyan and debutant Mark Kiptoo by just one second. Elijah Kemboi finished third with 2:07:34. The women’s race also produced good performances where Caroline Kilel ran a personal best of 2:22:34, achieving her second Frankfurt victory following success in 2010. Flomena Chepchirchir (Kenya/2:23:00) and Ethiopia’s Birhane Dibaba (2:23:01) were second and third across the finish line in the splendid setting of Frankfurt’s Festival Hall. 14,964 runners from 96 nations entered the BMW Frankfurt Marathon, which is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

The elite fields going into the race revealed unprecedented strength in depth for a marathon in Germany with five runners with personal bests of 2:05:30 and three women who had run sub 2:22 awaiting the starting gun. But with wind speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour, corresponding to 6 to 7 on the Beaufort scale, any prospect of achieving fast times soon disappeared.

A group of 14 runners reached the half way mark in 63:06, around 45 seconds slower than planned. Time and again they were strung out like a string of pearls, running behind each other in an attempt to shelter from the wind. The fact that there was no pacemaker still in the race made it even more difficult. At least one was supposed to run to 30 k. “I was surprised that there was no pacemaker left after half way. But we made our own pace,” said Vincent Kipruto, who was leading a group of six runners at the 30 k mark (1:29:21). There were still hopes for a finishing time of around 2:05 since the next seven kilometres were supposed to be a section with tailwind. “But the wind swirled and there was no wind from the back,” said Christoph Kopp, the elite race coordinator.

With Kipruto and his fellow Kenyans Gilbert Kirwa, Lani Rutto, Mark Kiptoo, Jacob Chesari and Levy Matebo Omari forming the first group the expected Ethiopian challenge never materialised. Feyisa Lilesa looked fine in the first half, but then he fell behind due to a back problem and finally dropped out at 37 k. His fellow Ethiopian Dino Sefir, the fastest in the field with 2:04:50, had lost contact to the first group before half way. But at least he made it to the finish, taking seventh position with 2:09:22.

Vincent Kipruto then pushed the pace between 32 and 34 kilometres. He left all but one rival behind: Mark Kiptoo. The 37 year-old ran his marathon debut on Sunday and staged a major surprise by running with Kipruto for 42 k. Shortly before they entered the Festival Hall, Kipruto made the decisive break. He crossed the line in 2:06:15, just one second ahead of Kiptoo. “He was strong, so I had to watch him and decided to wait until the final moment with my attack,” said Vincent Kipruto, who had hoped to improve his PB of 2:05:13. “The goal was to run sub 2:05. But I am still happy.” Kenyans took the first five places and continued their impressive Frankfurt winning streak, which began back in 2002.

“I have spoken to a number of athletes and coaches. And we think that the wind probably cost us around one and a half minutes. Additionally the pacemaking in the men’s race was terrible today,” said Christoph Kopp. “It was different with the women. They were better protected from the wind by their pacemakers.” Indeed with five women running sub 2:24 this marked unprecedented depth in any German marathon.

Six women reached the half way mark in 71:10 minutes, only slightly slower than planned. Flomena Chepchirchir, Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa, Caroline Kilel (all Kenya), Mamitu Daska, Tirfi Tsegaye Beyene and debutant Gelete Burka (all Ethiopia) formed this group. Burka’s hopes of making a major impact in her first marathon soon began to fade. She started to lose ground before 25 k and finished 12th with 2:30:40. The other five were still together at 35 k. Then Caroline Kilel began to build a lead before 40 k.

“I wanted to run 2:21, but with the wind and rain, this wasn´t possible,” said Caroline Kilel. “But I am very happy, because I managed to improve my personal best by two seconds. It was my second race in Frankfurt and my second personal best here. I want to come back in 2014.”


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