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Cheromei shines in Prague Marathon

Lydia Cheromei shines in Prague

Lydia Cheromei shines in Prague

Prague, May 8th, 2011: After records were smashed in last year’s race, and then again at this year’s Hervis Prague Half Marathon, it was always going to be difficult to maintain the momentum in this year’s Volkswagen Prague Marathon, but, sure enough, the organisers served up a real feast for both running aficionados and the thousands of spectators that lined the tracks.

It is difficult to imagine a more picturesque setting for what, this year, was an IAAF Road Race Gold Label race. As an impressive field of elite runners lined up on Prague’s famous Old Town Square at 09.00 am, there was a real sense of expectation in the air, and as the capacity field surged across the cobblestones and out into this historic city, the crowds of spectators knew that they were in for something special and, sure enough, the race saw a new women’s race record, with Lydia Cheromei smashing the old course record by almost three minutes.

In the men’s race, Benson Barus led a Kenyan clean sweep to win the men’s title, setting a personal best of 2:07:07 as he broke 2:08 for the first time. Although a group of 14 men went together through the halfway mark in 1:03:47, by 30km the title was destined to be an all-Kenyan contest, with Barus attacking at 39 km and soon going clear of Kenneth Mungara and marathon debutant Samuel Kosgei. Mungara, at the age of 38, ran a personal best of 2:07:36 while Samuel Kosgei showed his potential for the marathon with a fine debut in 2:07:47 on a warm day when temperatures rose into the high teens centigrade.

Lydia Cheromei, the new women’s champion, was a World Cross Country junior champion at the age of 13, 20 years ago, but having won the Hervis Prague Half Marathon earlier this year, there was always some expectation that she could get near the course record. She was rarely troubled during the race, winning by almost six minutes and proving to the world that she has the potential to race against the very best in the marathon. Ethiopia’s Yeshimebet

Tadesse finished second in 2:28:33 while her compatriot Belainesh Zemedkun was third in 2:32:15. Cheromei went through 10km in 30:06 and halfway in 1:10:41, on course to attack the 2:20 barrier, but slowed in the second half, though her win was never in doubt. Local representation was strong and the Czech athletes put up a great showing, with Petr Pechek the first Czech man home in a personal best of 2:18:28, whilst Radka Churanova continued her excellent form, coming home in 2:53:12.

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