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Cold wins for Tadese and Cherono

Gladys Cherono

Gladys Cherono

Despite temperatures that felt as if the Czech capital was enclosed in a refrigerator, the Hervis Prague Half Marathon produced a thrilling men’s race and a course record in the women’s competition. Eritrea’s world record holder Zersenay Tadese did not set any best times, but he won with a time of 60:10.

The performance of the day came in the women’s race, where Gladys Cherono (Kenya) broke the course record with 66:48. In temperatures around 4 degrees Celsius the world record of 58:23 minutes was out of reach early in the race. Instead spectators witnessed a thrilling finish in which world record holder Zersenay Tadese just edged out his fellow Eritrean Amanuel Mesel. Both were given the same time of 60:10. John Kipsang (Kenya) took a surprise third with 60:16. The Kenyans Pius Kirop (60:18) and Henry Kiplagat (60:21) also ran sub 61 minutes. After a third place with a personal best of 68:18 a year ago, Kenya’s Gladys Cherono returned with a commanding performance. Running 66:48, she improved the course record by 15 seconds and was well ahead of Worknesh Degefa (Ethiopia/68:12). Cherono’s time was the fourth fastest in the world this year. In third place Isabella Ochichi made a fine comeback. More than six years after her last international competition the Kenyan Olympic 5,000 m silver medallist from 2004 clocked 69:21.

A record number of 12,500 runners entered the Hervis Prague Half Marathon, which is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

“It felt as if this was the coldest race I’ve ever run,” said Zersenay Tadese, who also revealed that he felt as if he had a cold the day before. “Today I felt better, but in the cold my body felt heavy at times.” With a 10 k split time of 28:13 his own world record of 58:23 was well out of reach. Instead of a race against the clock, spectators saw a group of five runners contesting victory. Just before the 20 k mark Tadese, Mesel, Kipsang, Kirop and Kiplagat were still together. The two Eritreans then injected some pace and with just around 300 metres to go they left behind their Kenyan rivals. “My plan was to sprint for the final 500 metres, but Amanuel was still behind me,” said Zersenay Tadese. It was only on the short homestraight next to the Rudolfinum that the world record holder opened a very small, decisive gap and crossed the line two steps ahead of his training partner Mesel. “Taking into account the weather conditions my time is okay. But next time I want to run faster.”

“It was my aim to run a personal best,” said Amanuel Mesel, who had entered the race with a PB of 61:20. “But to run all the time with Zersenay and finish so close behind him, that’s amazing.” Both runners have the same Spanish coach, Jeronimo Bravo. Third placed John Kipsang also improved by more than a minute, from 61:21 to 60:16.

The men’s race with the world record holder had understandably claimed most of the media attention beforehand. But on the day it was Gladys Cherono, who broke a record. In contrast to the men, the women ran fast from the beginning. Cherono, Degefa, Ochichi and Mekasha passed the 10 k point in 32:02, a split time that indicated that they were on schedule for the course record of 67:03. It was Gladys Cherono, who managed to keep the pace high throughout. Just before the 15 k mark she started opening a gap on Degefa and soon after that the Kenyan was well ahead. “I’d hoped for a good race, but didn’t expect to run that fast. Naturally I am very happy with the course record,” said Cherono, after crossing the line in 66:48. “Actually I had a dream about this race, but I couldn’t see where I finished!”

Behind Worknesh Degefa, Kenya’s Isabella Ochichi ran a brilliant comeback for third place (69:21). “After all these years I am very happy to be here. I expected to run well, but I did not think about achieving a third place.”

The Hervis Prague Half Marathon marked the start of the Run Czech Series 2013. Six more international road races are to follow. The next event will be the Volkswagen Prague Marathon on 12th May.

Image Credit: Hervis Half Marathon Prague

Results (including bib numbers):


1          Zersenay Tadese     (ERI / # 1)                  60:10
2          Amanuel Mesel         (ERI / 12)                   60:10
3          John Kipsang            (KEN / 23)                 60:16
4          Pius Kirop                 (KEN / 3)                   60:18
5          Henry Kiplagat          (KEN / 6)                   60:21
6          Abere Kassw                        (ETH / 9)                    61:17
7          Tigabu Gebremariam          (ETH / 24)      61:28
8          Daniel Chebii            (KEN / 4)                   61:52
9          Teklemariam Medhin           (ERI / 5)          61:55
10       Philemon Limo         (KEN / 2)                   61:57


1          Gladys Cherono       (KEN / # F2)              66:48
2          Worknesh Degefa    (ERI / F1)                   68:12
3          Isabella Ochichi        (KEN / F7)                 69:21
4          Waganesh Mekasha           (ETH / F8)      69:31
5          Ehitu Kiros                (ETH / F10)               69:38
6          Agnes Mutune           (KEN / F3)                 70:06
7          Pamela Lisoreng      (KEN / F9)                 70:09


  1. […] recent times in long distance running.  Kenya’s Isabella Ochichi took third place in the Hervis Prague Half Marathon with a time of 69:21 in  her first major international race for more than six […]

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