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2003 report

Amsterdam, october 19- In a surprising victory, William Kipsang broke the course record here in the ING Amsterdam Marathon. The Kenyan improved on his personal best by almost six minutes to finish in 2:06.39. That was eight seconds faster than Fred Kiprop in 1999. Felix Limo seemed beaten by a surge of his fellow countryman eight kilometers before the finish in the Amsterdam Olympic stadium, but the marathon debutant battled back to finish only three seconds behind Kipsang.

William Kipsang

William Kipsang

With last years winner Benjamin Kimutai Kosgei (2:07.39), Rotterdam Marathon winner William Kiplagat (2:07.49) and Robert Cheruiyot (2:08.13) the first five runners were all from Kenya. National hero Kamiel Maase got sixth place in a Dutch record of 2:08.31. He broke the
23 year old mark of Gerard Nijboer (now the Dutch national marathon coach), who also ran his time of 2:09.01 in Amsterdam.

In the 28th edition of the Amsterdam marathon, the organisation profited from good fortunes on several levels. The weather conditions were nearly perfect with clear blue skies, emperatures just above 10 degrees and only a very light breeze. A major publicity campaign by the new sponsor enhanced both the public support (spectators in the stadium and along the course) as well as participation numbers (a record number of 11582 athletes from at least 51 nationalities ran the various distances, with 4287 entered in the full marathon). Up front, four pace makers led a sizeable group of about twelve athletes through 25, even 30 kilometers. Half way, the runners clocked 1:03.56/57, only three seconds of the designated pace.

Only then, after thirty kilometers, the race exploded by way of accellerations from both Limo and Kipsang. With earlier five-kilometer marks between 14.52 and 15.24, Kipsang ended up with posted splits at the subsequent 30/35/40 kilometer marks of 14.47, 14.40 (!) and 14.55. Three kilometers after the breakaway, he also slowly distanced himself somewhat from Limo.
Kipsang’s win was never safe, however. Marathon debutant Felix Limo proved to have a lot of speed two years ago by beating Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie over 15 kilometers in the Dutch city of Nijmegen, clocking the world best time ever of 41.29. In Amsterdam, Limo showed that same toughness by battling back to within three seconds of Kipsang, thereby pressuring his countryman to a new course record of 2:06.39 (old 2:06.47 by Fred Kiprop in 1999).

Said Limo: ”I kept looking back in the final stages because I knew there were still strong athletes who could come from behind to take my second place, like [last years winner] Benjamin Kimutai Kosgei and [Rotterdam Marathon victor] William Kiplagat. Nevertheless, at 40 kilometers my manager Jos Hermens told me I could still win it. He is however like a good father, because right after that he send his motorcycle to William [Kipsang] to tell him he could still win it.” Besides Kipsang, Limo and number four Kiplagat, Hermens management organisation represents four more athletes in the top-9 (Maase, Hailemariam, Chemitei and Cheboror).

The somewhat shy Kipsang himself did not have much to say after his remarkable win (making him no. 7 in the 2003 world rankings, 14th all-time, with 8th and 15th places respectively for Limo). The Kenyan was best known from his 12th place in last aprils Paris marathon, clocking 2.12.34. Before that, he only ran a good first 35 kilometers in the 2001 Amsterdam marathon, running on a 2:10 schedule only to have a complete meltdown and finishing in 2:25. In Amsterdam, he was an outsider behind other athletes mentioned plus for example the two time Boston Marathon winner Moses Tanui (finishing 11th in 2:12.24, far behind his personal best of 2:06.16).

Title holder Benjamin Kimutai Kosgei expressed regret for losing his title, but satisfaction in proving himself a consistent runner after winning a major marathon last year.

Kimutai Kosgei also seemed to joke a bit about the large amount of Dutch (press) attention for Kamiel Maase. Before congratulating the Dutchman on his national record, he said: ”A marathon really only starts after the halfway mark. And with Kamiel still with us, I knew the race was not really on. As soon as he was gone, I knew the race had begon.”

Maase himself responded quickly by saying he would try to stay at the front of the race longer next time. This year, he was happy to continue in his own pace to secure the Dutch record. ”I have been asked many times when I would break the mark of Gerard Nijboer and I am very happy I succeeded”, Maase said. The Dutchman expressed relief a long season (including the Rotterdam Marathon in april and the 10,000 meters at the World Championships in Paris) had finally ended. Said Maase, one day before his 32nd birthday: ‘It’s now definately time for vacation’.

The outstanding conditions in Amsterdam showed also in the womens race. Kenyan Margaret Atonondyang led through the 35 kilometer mark, running an early pace of sub-2:26. She was however overtaken by Elena Sampaio from Portugal and Kenyan debutant Carolina Kwambai. In the final two kilometers Sampaio easily got away from the fading Kenyan to win in a personal best of 2:28.06. After the race, Sampaio talked about her happiness not only with the win, but also with her time. At the moment, she is the fastest of only two Portugese athletes who have the national qualifying mark for the 2004 olympics. Sampaio is not expected to be run out of a ticket to Athens. Kwambai turned out to be ecstatic after her 2:28.47 debut: ”I was so
afraid for the marathon, I only believed I could run 2:28 because my manager and trainer [Dutchman Pieter Langerhorst, the husband of Lornah Kiplagat] kept saying so. But now I know and I am 100% sure I can improve on this time”.

Atonondyang held on to third place (2:29.20), with Hungarian debutant Beata Rackonzai the fourth athlete under 2:30 (2:29.54).

Top 20 Male and the top 5 Female Results

source Wilmar Kortleever for Time-to-Run

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