Tight finish at Barcelona half-marathon

Six men battled for 21K while Ashete Bekere cruised to a massive PB

February 18th, 2020 by | Posted in Runs & Races | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Kenya’s Victor Chumo ran his first sub-60 half-marathon to win Sunday’s eDreams Mitja Marató de Barcelona in a race that saw six men fighting for the lead from start to finish.

The men got off to a relatively slow start, passing through 5K in 14:18, slower than the pace necessary to break the course record of 59:44. The group picked things up over the next five kilometres, clocking 28:04 for 10K, on-pace to break the record. After 15K, it still looked like a record was in the cards, but the pace slowed in the closing kilometres and the 59:44 time to beat will remain intact for at least another year.

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With under two kilometres to go, Chumo, a pacer for Eliud Kipchoge in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, still had five men close by to battle for the win. With one kilometre left, Chumo, his fellow Kenyan Moses Koech and Uganda’s Stephen Kissa broke away from the small pack and pushed for the finish. None of these men had ever clocked a sub-60 half-marathon, and with just a few hundred metres remaining, each of them was in a position to do so.

Eliud Kipchoge running behind his pacemaking team, including Victor Chumo (left), at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.  Photo: Jon Super for The INEOS 1:59 Challenge

In the final stretch, it was Chumo who broke the tape, just eking out a sub-60 performance with a time of 59:58, setting a five-second PB. Kissa and Koech both crossed the line in 1:00:00, but it was the Ugandan, in his debut half-marathon, who came out on top for second place. Koech’s third-place finish was an 11-second PB.

The top five finishers were within a dozen seconds of one another.

On the women’s side, the race was much less dramatic, but still produced an exciting result. Ashete Bekere of Ethiopia won by half a minute, breaking her previous PB by a whopping four minutes to finish in a time of 1:06:37. Bekere ran with her compatriot, Asnakech Awoke, for much of the race, but with three kilometres to go she pulled away. Awoke came in second place, six seconds ahead of Dorcas Kimeli of Kenya.

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This is an excellent start to the season for Bekere, who won the 2019 Berlin and Rotterdam marathons.