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Bernard Kipyego defends Amsterdam Marathon title

Bernard Kipyego - Amsterdam Marathon

Sunday 18th October 2015 – Bernard Kipyego won the TCS Amsterdam Marathon for the second year in a row, clocking a time of 2.06.19. Minutes later, elation was quickly followed by disappointment in the Olympic Stadium. Abdi Nageeye’s race over the classic distance of 42.195 km in 2.10.24 earned him a ticket to Rio de Janeiro. Michel Butter and Khalid Choukoud just missed the Olympic qualifying time of 2.11, posting 2.11.08 and 2.11.34 respectively. Joyce Chepkirui won the women’s race in 2.24.11.

Bernard Kipyego defends his title at the TCS Amsterdam Marathon

After the crack of the starting pistol in the Olympic Stadium, a large group of 18 athletes formed the lead pack. The race initially looked set for a fast time, with the lead runners passing the halfway mark at 1:02:56. But high atmospheric humidity of 98% and rain splashing up from the road took their toll. The first athletes fell back from the lead pack on the way back along the Amstel, and for the last 10 to 15 km the athletes looked as if they had hit the wall. Runners were also plagued by muscle cramps. Like last year, Bernard Kipyego coped best with the difficult conditions. Taking the lead near the Rijksmuseum, he dominated the race and entered the Olympic Stadium alone ahead of the pack. His winning time of 2:06:19 shaved 3 seconds off his personal best. “It was hard going, but I’m glad I was able to defend my title and improve my personal best,” said Kipyego. His compatriots, Ezekiel Chebii and Mike Kigen, placed second (2:07:18) and third (2:07:45). Former-winner Wilson Chebet had to settle for 5th place and former-world champion Abel Kirui finished 10th.

Abdi Nageeye threw his arms up in the air as he crossed the finish line in a time of 2:10:24. He placed 8th in the international field but was fast enough to achieve the Olympic qualifying time. “The pacing worked to my advantage,” he said. “A halfway time of 1:04:75 put me well on track. Around 35 km I started to get very cold and was experiencing pain in my feet. I could feel my hamstrings and my calves. It was difficult to maintain the pace. I tried to stay focussed. I kept thinking, how much further is the Olympic stadium? The jubilant Nageeye was suitably pleased with his performance. “I’m thrilled,” he said. “But I feel for Michel and Khalid. For three Dutch athletes to achieve a finish time of less than 2:12 is a tremendous feat. The qualifying time is so much faster than in other countries, I don’t understand it,” he said.

Michel Butter found it hard to take in the fact that he failed to make the cut for Rio de Janeiro by 8 seconds. With the clock showing a time of 2:11:08, after hugging his girlfriend, his eyes filled with tears. Yet despite missing the qualifying time, it was a strong performance. Castricum-born Butter is clearly back on top form. “I felt good today and throughout the race I was confident that I would make the qualifying time. The pacing also worked perfectly. But the rain splashing up off the road caused mild cramp which pushed up my kilometre times. I tried to sprint to the finish line as fast as I could – I really gave it my all. It’s a bitter defeat,” said Butter afterwards with a heavy sigh. “But I’m proud I’m back on top form. It’s been an amazing process and I know I can do it.”

Things also looked promising for Choukoud for much of the race. “Up until the 35 km mark I was on track. I thought I was going to make it. But I had a very hard time from 38 to 40 km. I suffered a blow, which has never happened to me before. It was tough. I need to gain more experience in the marathon, then I’m sure I’ll be able to pull it off.”

Joyce Chepkirui had a huge smile on her face when she spoke to the media after the race. “The conditions were tough, but I’m pleased with my new personal best and the win.” Her finish time of 2:24:11 knocked 5 minutes off her best marathon performance to date and is the eighth fastest time ever run at the TCS Amsterdam Marathon. Flomena Cheyech finished second in 2:24:11 and Australian Milly Clark placed third (2:29.07)

Today the TCS Amsterdam Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, welcomed 44,028 participants, who gathered at the Olympic Stadium for the various events (the marathon, the Mizuno Half Marathon, the TCS 8 K and races for children). With nearly 16,000 runners having registered for the marathon, the TCS Amsterdam Marathon is the largest marathon in the Netherlands and one of the largest marathons in Europe. And with 19,000 entries from abroad, the TCS Amsterdam Marathon is clearly very popular internationally. With a record number of 105 nationalities, the atmosphere in and around the Olympic Stadium was electric. The race was broadcast live in 137 countries.