Due largely to rain and high winds, yesterday’s race (October 27) yielded somewhat disappointing results, as winner Vincent Kipruto crossed in 2:06:15, beating countryman Mark Kiptoo by one second with a final surge.
Kipruto and Kiptoo led a Kenyan contingent who swept the top five, as Elijah Kemboi (2:07:34), Jacob Chesari (2:07:46), and Albert Matebor (2:08.17) also persevered through the stormy conditions.
Compounding their difficulties was inadequate pacemaking, and after reaching the halfway mark 45 seconds later than expected, the lead pack ran the final 13 miles without anyone shielding them from the wind or helping them stay on target.
“I was surprised that there was no pacemaker left after halfway, but we made our own pace,” said Kipruto, according to IAAF.org.
Elite race coordinator Christoph Kopp had hoped the top six would make up time in the final seven kilometers, where a tailwind was expected to push them toward the finish at Festival Hall, but he said that “the wind swirled,” and the meteorological boost never came to fruition.
“I have spoken to a number of athletes and coaches and we think that the wind probably cost us around one and a half minutes,” Kopp said, according to the IAAF. “Additionally, the pacemaking in the men’s race was terrible today. It was different with the women. They were better protected from the wind by their pacemakers.”
Indeed, the women had a better collective showing, as the top five finishers crossed before the clock had clicked over to 2:24. Winner Caroline Kilel and runner-up Flomena Chepchirchir finished in 2:22:34 and 2:23:00, strengthening Kenya’s dominant showing at the event.
Another Kenyan, Eunice Jepkirui, took fifth place in 2:23:45, failing to catch the pair of Ethiopian runners—Birhane Dibaba (2:23:01) and Mamitu Daska (2:23:23)—whose fine performances prevented another Kenyan top-five sweep.
“I wanted to run 2:21, but with the wind and rain it wasn’t possible,” said Kilel. “But I am very happy because I managed to improve my personal best by two seconds. It was my second race in Frankfurt and my second personal best here. I want to come back in 2014.”
“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