However, at 80 years of age, Ed Whitlock set a new age-group record.
Written by: Wim Van Hemert
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
ROTTERDAM — The hope for an absolute world record in the 31st edition of the ABN-AMRO marathon faded after the half way marker on a sunny but slightly warm and windy day. This IAAF Silver Label road race was won by Kenyan Wilson Chebet in 2:05:27 the fastest time clocked on the marathon so far this year. In the final stage it was a two-man battle between Chebet and compatriot Vincent Kipruto who finished six seconds back.
The women’s race was also a two-sided affair. Dutchwoman Hilda Kibet, who was leading from the beginning, could not answer the acceleration of Kenyan Philes Ongori with one kilometer to go. Ongori, who was making her debut, won in 2:24:20 leaving Kibet, who set a two-minute personal best of 2:24:27, seven seconds behind.
It seems as the Rotterdam organizers had made a clever move by insuring a possible world record for USD 350,000. The hope for that record (slim given the athletes in the field) survived till 25 kilometers. The so-called “Magnificent Seven” as the organizers referred to the first seven on the starting list –Vincent Kipruto, Eliud Kiptanui, Wilson Chebet, Gilbert Kirwa (all Kenya), Feyisa Lilesa, Getu Feleke and Chala Dechase (all Ethiopia)– plus Kenyan Michael Kipyego all went out very fast with the six pacemakers. The group passed the 5 kilometer marker in 14:38, three seconds shy of Haile Gebrselassie’s split in the world record he set in Berlin in 2008. The group passed went through the first 10K in 29:09, four seconds faster than Gebrselassie. At 15 kilometers they had an improbable 14 seconds (43:49) on the world record split.
But by 20 kilometers (58:40), it was clear the pace was too fast. By halfway (1:02:07) there were down by two seconds on world record pace, and began to settle in at a more regular 3:00 per kilometer.
At 30 kilometers (1:28:42) the leaders were: Feleke, Chebet, Kipruto and Dechase with the pacemakers Sammy Kitwara and Peter Kirui still at the front. In the next five kilometers, the Ethiopians Feleke and Dechase dropped back. Peter Kirui dropped out then Kitwara stepped off at 35 km. That left Chebet and Kipruto to fight it out for the win.
Chebet accelerated around 41 kilometers and immediately opened a gap. At the finish on the Coolsingel where thousands of spectators were cheering, Chebet finished in a personal best 2:05:27, making him the fastest marathoner so far of 2011.
Race director Mario Kadiks did manage to have a world record on the day, however. Canada’s Ed Whitlock, 80 years old, ran a spectacular 3:25:43 (3:25:40 net) to smash the world 80-84 record of 3:39:18 set by Australia’s Robert Horman at Brisbane in 1998.