The Kenyan duo of Brimin Misoi and Selly Kaptich triumphed at the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon on Sunday, defying unusually high temperatures. The heatwave put a brake on what might have been a crop of personal bests on the traditionally fast course but one record was set: temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius towards the end of the elite race made this the warmest Frankfurt Marathon in 33 years.
While the surprise winner of the men’s title, the 33-year-old Brimin Misoi, overcame the tough conditions to run a personal best of 2:06:11, his equally mature compatriot, the 37-year-old Selly Kaptich, confirmed her status as one of the pre-race favourites. Hendrik Pfeiffer raised the home fans’ spirits by finishing seventh in 2:11:28, not quite achieving his intended goal of breaking 2:10 but a highly creditable performance, given the conditions. The men’s champion Brimin Misoi clearly slowed in the last 10 kilometres as did Kaptich and Pfeiffer and almost all of the elite finishers.
After a two-year interruption because of the Corona Pandemic, the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon returned in impressive style with a festival of running in front of thousands of appreciative fans. Taking into account events held in conjunction, 20,551 runners were entered. 11,708 took part in the marathon, confirming its position as Germany’s second biggest marathon. The Mainova Frankfurt Marathon is an Elite Label Road Race of World Athletics, the international athletics federation.
“We’ve succeeded in staging a wonderful comeback to Frankfurt’s streets and the Festhalle. We had to overcome many challenges and are very happy about today,” said Jo Schindler, race director of the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon. “The athletes had good conditions at the start. Past the half marathon mark they were going well, then it became tough, keeping going in such sunshine. Respect and hats off to every finisher. It was a good result but the race had potential for even more.”
The Men’s Race
Temperatures were hardly ideal for fast times, nonetheless, the top three men finishers each set personal bests. A big group stayed together, running on a pace which would bring the leaders across the line in around 2:06. Shortly after 25 kilometres, the scenario was transformed as the Kenyans Brimin Misoi and Samwel Mailu seized the initiative.
Their rivals failed to muster a reply and suddenly a finishing time of 2:04 seems possible. But the rising temperatures forced Misoi to slacken his pace from kilometre 37 although he remained unchallenged for the win as he was cheered to the roof of the Festhalle in 2:06:11. “I expected to win. My form was good. The course is outstanding, I am sure I can run faster here,” he said. His previous personal best was 2:08:41, set in May this year at altitude in Nairobi, which is always a tough event. Misoi showed that he is a true competitor by taking over two-and-a-half minutes off that time.
Samwel Mailu was a distant second but deserved the applause and was right to celebrate a brilliant marathon debut in 2:07:19. This was achieved after completing his original role as a pacemaker for Misoi and the rest of the leading group to outstanding effect. The organisers had agreed on the eve of the race to his request that he could race to the finish, once his pacing duties were done. The Ethiopian Derese Ulfata also produced a solid performance to finish third in 2:07:30, also a personal best.
The home fans also had good reason to celebrate the success of Hendrik Pfeiffer. In a controlled effort, the German finished a creditable seventh in 2:11:28, not quite the sub-2:10 he had wanted but his second fastest time ever, nonetheless. “I’m mega-happy. It was a great result and rounds off a great year for me,” said Pfeiffer, who at the European Championships in Munich in August finished 24th, helping Germany to win the silver medal in the team competition.
The women’s race
The women were on course for a sub 2:20 result and a course record until late in the race. Kenya’s Valary Aiyabei clocked the current record of 2:19:10 three years ago and this remains the only sub 2:20 result in the history of the event. Selly Kaptich, who was the fastest runner on the start list with a PB of 2:21:06, ran right behind the three pacemakers right from the start. They reached half way in 69:40 and at this stage Ethiopians Atalel Anmut Dargie and Yoshi Chekole still managed to hold on to the group. A bit further behind a second group with six runners followed in a promising split time of 70:34. Among these runners was Helah Kiprop, Kenya’s marathon silver medallist from the World Championships in 2015.
However just a few kilometers later in the race the picture changed decisively. Dargie was the first one who could not hold the pace and when the former track runner Kaptich increased the pace further at 25k (1:22:27) Chekole dropped back as well. Kaptich covered the following 5k section in a very fast 16:18 and her 30k split time of 1:38:45 then indicated that a sub 2:19 finish might be possible. But all of a sudden the Kenyan leader was in trouble as well. In the warm conditions she slowed considerably. Kaptich was not in danger of being caught because she was well ahead by over two minutes and the women behind her also slowed as well. But the course record was soon out of reach and a time of sub 2:20 became unrealistic as well.
With time of 2:23:11 Selly Kaptich ran the third fastest marathon time of her career. Behind her Helah Kiprop had moved up into second place and then finished in 2:24:40 with fellow-Kenyan Jackline Chepngeno taking third with 2:25:14. “It was a great day for me. The atmosphere was superb and I think I could break the course record if I could come back next year and if weather conditions would be cooler,“ said Selly Kaptich.
1. Brimin Misoi KEN 2:06:11
2. Samwel Mailu KEN 2:07:19
3. Deresa Ulfata ETH 2:07:30
4. Balew Yihunie Derseh ETH 2:09:21
5. Martin Kosgey KEN 2:10:22
6. Bonface Kiplimo KEN 2:11:08
7. Hendrik Pfeiffer GER 2:11:28
8. Stephen Mugambi KEN 2:11:34
9. Merhawi Ghebreslasie ERI 2:12:34
10. Justino da Silva BRA 2:12:41
1. Selly Kaptich KEN 2:23:11
2. Helah Kiprop KEN 2:24:40
3. Jackline Chepngeno KEN 2:25:14
4. Sofia Yaremchuk ITA 2:25:36
5. Caroline Jepchirchir KEN 2:27:58
6. Sardana Trofimova KGZ 2:28:50
7. Meseret Alemu ETH 2:29:21
8. Martha Akeno KEN 2:36:33
9. Rebecca Lonedo ITA 2:39:54
10. Corinna Coenning GER 2:40:48
More Information is available at: www.frankfurt-marathon.com