If Caroline Rotich has learned anything this spring, it’s that she need not hang with the pack. Competing on Sunday, May 12, at the Volkswagen Prague International Marathon, the Kenyan runner kept pace with the top six until about the halfway point, when she moved into the lead. It was the position she’d hold, sans challenge, for the remainder of the race, as she cruised to her third major victory of the year.
Finishing in 2:27:00, Rotich performed much like she did at the NYC Half in March and April’s Cherry Blossom 10-Mile in Washington, DC, both of which she won after leading the field for long stretches of asphalt. Ordinarily a “sit-and-kick” runner, according to letsrun.com, Rotich has been getting used to being out front, and she went into Prague feeling good about her chances.
“Those two races have made me feel like I can run from anywhere and be confident with what I am doing,” Rotich said prior to the race. “I have been training with my coach to run from anywhere and be able to hold it and keep going. It gives me a confidence that I don’t have to have someone there pushing me. I just have to be able to run my race.”
In Prague, that’s precisely what she did. After pulling ahead of the pack, Rotich gradually put more distance between herself and her two closest competitors, fellow Kenyan Philes Ongori and Ethiopia’s Ehiru Kiros. By the final stages of the race, she’d built a cushion of more than a minute. Ongori ultimately finished second, clocking in at 2:28:53, and Kiros grabbed third with 2:30:02.
“For sure, I was surprised that nobody covered my move,” Rotich said after the race, according to runnersspace.com. “I was trying to push there so I can see what we can do. After we pushed, I heard one of the ladies telling the pacemaker that it was a little too fast. I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ I thought everyone was trying to go for a course record.”
On the men’s side, Qatar’s Nicholas Kemboi finished first with a time of 2:08:51. Rounding out the top three were Ethiopia’s Girmay Birhanu and Kenya’s Patrick Kipyegon Terer, who finished in 2:09:30 and 2:10:10, respectively.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg