Kenyan runners executed a clean sweep and won all four races at the two IAAF Gold Label Road Races—the Rock ’n’ Roll EDP Lisbon Marathon and the Rock ’n’ Roll Vodafone Half Marathon contested in the Portuguese capital on Sunday.
Samuel Ndungu and Visiline Jepkesho took the top honors in the marathon, winning in 2:08:21 and 2:26:47, both times course records despite rather windy conditions.
Ndungu secured his victory just after the 29th kilometer, when his compatriot Lawrence Kimayo fell after tripping over a pacemaker. His winning times was the fastest marathon in the history of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, breaking Philip Taurus’ previous mark of 2:08:33 from 1999 in San Diego.
“I was very happy for the win here in Lisbon. I enjoyed much this course, flat and the pacemaker made his job very well,” said Ndungu, clearly referring to the tempo set rather than the fact that one of his main rivals had been hindered.
In the women’s marathon, Visiline Jepkesho now has two wins in two marathons to her name after she added the Lisbon title to the one she won in Milan earlier this year.
After three women went through the halfway point in a quick 1:11:55, Jepkesho was the one who suffered least over the second half of the race and she improved by almost two minutes from her debut over the classic distance in Italy back in April when she crossed the line in Lisbon in 2:26:47.
“I’m very happy with this win. I felt very healthy all the race and I made a great time. I expected to make a good performance but I didn’t think I could reach the personal record,” commented the winner.
In the half marathon, Kenya’s Stephen Kibet stretched his lead after 15K and came home 1:01:06, a time which surely would have been much closer to the hour in better conditions. Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia hung on to finish second in 1:02:25 with Geofrey Kusuro of Uganda third, four second in arrears, and Oloitipitt fourth in 1:02:36.
In the closest battle for victory on the day, five women were still together at 15K in the half marathon but Purity Rionoripo pulled away to win in 1:11:02, five seconds ahead of local star Sara Moreira, who is currently preparing for her marathon debut in New York next month.