By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(25-Jun) — In sizzling conditions, 2015 TCS New York City Marathon champions Stanley Biwott and Mary Keitany dominated the seventh annual Mattoni Olomouc Half-Marathon in Moravia in the Czech Republic. Despite an early evening start, the temperature was 32C (90F), and fast running was simply impossible. Biwott clocked 1:00:46 and Keitany –who finished seventh overall– ran 1:08:53, excellent times given the heat.
“It was difficult weather,” said Biwott in a brief post-race broadcast interview carried by Flotrack.org. “I really struggled with it. I tried my best.”
Biwott, who will represent Kenya in the upcoming Rio Olympic Marathon, told Race Results Weekly before the race that he wanted to run a fast time. He said that the hot temperatures would give him a unique fitness test in advance of Rio where conditions could potentially be very warm, and certainly humid.
Sticking to that plan, he went through 5 km in about 14:10 (sub-hour pace) with compatriots Geoffrey Ronoh and Richard Mengich, plus two pacemakers. Moments later, he and Mengich struck out on their own leaving the rest of the race behind.
About 8 kilometers into the race, Biwott dropped Mengich, and the race was over. Although Biwott’s pace fell off, today’s result showed him that his training for Rio was right on track.
“I think now I am confident in hot weather conditions, and I am now going home to train,” he said.
Mengich struggled to complete the race, and crossed the finish line in 1:05:17. Third place went to Geoffrey Kipyego, another Kenyan, in 1:06:04. Ukraine’s Vitaliy Shafar, who didn’t start the race so aggressively, was fourth (1:06:14).
Keitany, who was named as a reserve for the Kenyan Olympic Marathon team, had to shake off early challenges from Violah Jepchumba –who had run three very fast half-marathons earlier this year, including a 1:05:51 in Prague– and 2015 Honolulu Marathon champion Joyce Chepkirui. Wearing green adidas racing kit and pink shoes, she took command of the women’s contest before the 10-K mark. She even dropped her male pacer. Finishing seventh overall, she beat second place Edith Chelimo (1:12:15) by over three minutes.
“My race was good,” said an obviously drained Keitany in a brief post-race broadcast interview.
Chepkirui hung on for third place (1:12:40), but Jepchumba was forced to drop out. Fourth place went to Japan’s Risa Takenaka (1:12:53).
Both Biwott and Keitany earned €2500 in prize money; Biwott earned an additional €1000 time bonus for sub-1:01, while Keitany snagged a €2000 time bonus for sub-1:09:00.
Today’s race, part of the RunCzech series, was an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.