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Regassa wins Eindhoven but Poland dominates women

Iwona Lewandowska

Tilahun Regassa is starting to amass a formidable marathon record and after winning the 2014 De Lage Landen Marathon Eindhoven in 2:06:21 on Sunday he has now won two out of his four outings over the classic distance, both his victories coming on Dutch roads.

The Ethiopian made a decisive surge in the 36th kilometre in Eindhoven to quickly put daylight between himself and his main rivals.

In addition to putting his fellow runners well behind him, the burst of acceleration also helped him forget all the worries of a slight left knee injury which had troubled him in the weeks prior to the race, and even on the start line.

“It was something that was bothering me throughout the race but only a little bit. When the pace was about 63 minutes at the halfway, I was happy as I could feel that my knee was OK at this pace and so I am very happy to have the win, and not unhappy about missing the course record or my personal best (2:0527),” said the regular training partner of distance running great Kenenisa Bekele two days before the race.

The race started in perfect conditions for for the rest of the morning.

After a relatively sedate first 5km in 15:10, the pacemakers increased their tempo and a leading group of eight reached 10km in 29:39.

The group contained Regassa, his compatriot Deriba Merga, and the Kenyan trio of Jonathan Maiyo, 10km and 15km world record holder Leonard Komon and Richard Sigei, as well as three Kenyan pacemakers: Sammy Kigen, Victor Kirui and Alfers Lagat

The group was still packed tightly at 15km, passed in 44:31 and stayed together for the next seven kilometres, which was perhaps not surprising as the pace slowed slightly during the next 5km as 20km was reached in 59:36 and then halfway point passed in 1:03:05.

The lead group started the break up shortly fast times: 10 degrees Celsius, slightly overcast and almost no wind; and the weather stayed calm halfway, with Kirui stepping to the side of the road. Merga and Komon starting to drift off the back of the pack at 22km.

Now down to five, including pacers Kigen and Lagat, 25km was reached in 1:14.25.

Sigei was the next to weaken and he could not stay with Regassa and Maiyo for much longer but, still assisted by the pacemakers, the quartet went through 30km in 1:29:22, at which point it looked possible that Dickson Chumba’s 2012 course record of 2:05:46 might fall.

However, thoughts of course records sadly started to diminish in the next 5km stretch before the four runners reached 35km in 1:44.36.

A few minutes later, Regassa sensed the men around him were suffering and decided it was the right moment to go through the gears. From that point it looked unlikely there would be another winner.

Lagat, who had been given the green light at 35km by race director Peer Pulles to finish despite his initial role as a pacemaker, held second place for a couple of kilometres before Maiyo started to show his experience  and came through to overtake his compatriot just before 39km.

However, Regassa also had plenty in reserve and, having regularly checked on who was behind him in the final kilometres, had no problems keeping Maiyo at bay as the Kenyan eventually crossing the line in 2:06:47.

Lagat, despite tiring over the final three kilometres, finished his first marathon in 2:07:11.

Komon, of whom much had been expected considering his credentials over shorter distances on the roads, finished a very disappointed sixth in 2:14:25

“At 23km my legs started to feel very tired but I was determined to finish. During the last hour of the race I asked myself a lot of questions. I did a lot of thinking in the final 15km as I was passing nobody other than joggers (on the first lap of the two laps of the city),” reflected Komon.

The first women’s home was Poland´s Iwona Lewandowska in 2:28:33, just one second outside her personal best.

Lewandowska was out on her own in the women’s race almost from the gun, although helped by male runners around her, and she passed halfway in 1:13:46 before becoming the first Polish woman to win in Eindhoven and also take the World Military Marathon Championships title.

The men’s gold medal in the World Military Marathon Championships also went to Poland with former European junior 3000m steeplechase champion Marcin Chabowski finishing eighth overall in 2:15:04.

Leading men’s results:
1. Tilahun Regassa (Ethiopia)         2:06:21
2. Jonathan Maiyo (Kenya)             2:06:47
3. Alfers Lagat (Kenya)                   2:07:10
4. Sammy Kigen Korir (Kenya)         2:08:05
5. Richard Sigei (Kenya)            2:12:36
6. Leonard Komon (Kenya)         2:14:25
7. Jafred Kipchumba (Kenya)         2:14:49
8. Marcin Chabowski (Poland)         2:15:04
9. Henryk Szost (Poland)             2:16:26
10. Meriusz Gizynski (Poland)         2:18:09

Leading women’s results:
1. Iwona Lewandowska (Poland)         2:28:33
2. Olha Kalendarova-Ochal (Poland)     2:32:06
3. Monika Stefanowitz (Poland)         2:32:25