Overcoming the heat, Martin Lel won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Half-Marathon on Sunday in 1:01:28, defeating runner-up Albert Matebor, his Kenyan compatriot, by 10 seconds.
Winning the women’s race was 2012 Olympic Marathon silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya, in 1:10:32.
Lel, 33, was using the race as part of his preparation for the ING New York City Marathon on November 4.
A two-time winner of the ING New York City Marathon, in 2003 and 2007, Lel is also a three-time winner of the Virgin London Marathon, in 2005, 2007, and 2008, where he finished second in 2012 in 2:06:51. The 2003 IAAF World Half-Marathon Champion, Lel was fifth in the 2008 Olympic Marathon. His marathon personal best is 2:05:15, set in his 2008 London victory.
In Sunday’s Lisbon race, Lel handily defeated two of the pre-race favorites. Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist at 10,000 meters, finished sixth in 1:02:59, with defending champion Silas Sang of Kenya seventh in 1:04:21. Temperatures reached the high 70s Fahrenheit by the end of the race.
"This course is marvelous, totally flat; we can achieve great performances here, but this wasn’t that day,” said Lel, who broke away in the final kilometer of the 21K race. “I thought the other runners made it harder for me, but all of them didn’t understand the weather very well."
“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