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Rotterdam Marathon Report 2002

Rotterdam Marathon

Rotterdam Marathon

A few minutes before the traditional canon fire that starts the Rotterdam Marathon, conditions are reasonably well. Sunny weather,little wind, no chance of rain, 60% humidity. The only thing that mightbe a threat to fast times is the temperature. Were organisers were hoping for 12-14 degrees, the sun pushed that up to 15-17 degrees.

The Rotterdam marathon is looking for an exciting, but also for a fast race. In the men’s race, we have five athletes with personal bests of 2.07: The Kenyans Cheruiyot, Lagat, Biwott (2nd world championships) and Kahugo, plus the Spaniard Alejandro Gomez. In the womens race, the race promises to be Japanese with Takami Ominami (2.26), Junka Akaga (2.28 and Masako Chiba (2.29).
Strictly for national interest: the Dutch championships are also contested, with Luc Krotwaar and Vivan Ruijters as the major favorites.

Weather update at the start: 15 degrees, humidity 65, wind 2-2,5 m/s. So good conditions, but a bit warm. The athletes are trying to find the right pace. Four groups were formed with specific pacing speeds: 63.15 for the half marathon (2.06.30 pace), 64.00 (2.08), 65.30 (2.11) and 67.00 (2.14 – with four Dutch runners).
The two first groups formed after four kilometers. With the designated ‘rabbits’ in front: Marco Gielen and the Kenyans Kigen, Keitany,
Chelulu, Bibet. First 5 km: 15.09. So a bit behind the scheduled pace (now 2.07.30). First major surprise: Co-favorite and Boston 2000 winner Elija Lagat(2.07.41)is in trouble already. tv-commentator: ‘Lagat will not run a full marathon today…’

Usually, the early stages of a marathon are not exciting, but very telling about who’s good and who isn’t. Who is pacing, and who is sitting back to wait for the final stages and the sprint finish. The first thing is clear: pre-race favorite Lagat will not win. He is behind the group of Dutch athletes (2.14 pace), so will probably keep running until he reaches the athlete hotel (conveniently located).
The first group is about 13, including the 7 (!) pace makers. Among them one surprising athlete: Ambesse Tolossa ( Eth, best time 2.10.37). All debutants are in the second group

10 km: 30.09 (5 k: 15.00). And a sigh of excitement: Kenneth Cheruiyot(Ken) steps on the heels of another athlete at the refreshment stand and falls. Quick on his feet though, and continuing in the front group.2nd group: 30.39 (5 k: 15.24).

The women leading group is four athletes: three Japanes plus Ethiopiandebutant Tola Wokenesh. 10 km: 34.19 (2.25 pace).

Meanwhile, following the Rotterdam Marathon here in the press room is different than other years. We used to arrive here early to watch the London Marathon – seeing whether ‘Rotterdam’ or ‘London’ would be faster. That, of course, is not the question this year.

PS another incident at 37 minutes: in the second group Krotwaar hits Kamzee who falls and stops running. Stumbling Krotwaar hesitated to help him up, but didn’t and connected with the group again 500 m later.

Judging by the race developments, conditions are not superb. Still, the pacers led the group through the half marathon at 1.03.32. The organisation can still hope for the course record of 2.06.50 (once the world record by Densamo, equalled last year). Six runners left: Kenneth Cheruiot, Sammy Korir, Joseph Kahugu, simon Biwott, (Ken) and Tolossa Ambessa, Demissie Ashebir (both Eth). No lack of pacers: at 20 km, there were 6 left.

In the second group (pace dropping fast – merge with 3rd group forthcoming)) Dutchman Luc Krotwaar was in trouble for a minute, but he returned to the group (halfway time 1.05.18).

In the womens race: still the same four athletes in front: Japanese Takami, Junko and Masako, with Ethiopian debutant Worknesh (15k: 51.48, 2.25/2.26 pace).

With the first half of the race over, the athletes are on their own. All pacemakers are gone, other then Kenyan Wilson Kigen – hired to pace for 30km, but rumoured to maybe finishing the race. If he wants to, he is not without a chance: at 27 km he easily build a lead of about 5-10 meters. At 28 km: Ethiopian Demissie Ashebir is gone. Six athletes left:’pace maker’ Kigen and five (Sammy Korir, Joseph Kahugu, Kenneth Cheruiyot, Simon Biwott and Tolossa Ambesse).

In the womens race: Ethiopian debutant Worknesh lost a lot after 15k. At 21km: two athletes left: Takami and Masako. Halfway time; 1.12.20.

In the Dutch championships: Krotwaar is not in trouble at all. He was behind the chasing group for a while, but is now leading it (!). In contention for the medals: Hugo van den Broek (pb 2.21, pace 2.14) and Robert Smits (pb 2.18, pace 2.14).

The final stages will not be easy though: the temperature is listed at 17.5 degrees.

As the tv-commentator (former athlete Marti ten Kate) said earlier: the marathon has begun. At 35 km: two athletes left (Korir out at 31 km, Kahugu and Tolossa Ambessa at 34 km):- – Simon Biwott (2nd world championships)- – Kenneth Cheruiyot (Rotterdam 2000 winner, 2nd Rotterdam 2001). 35 km intermediate: 1.46.16, pace 2.08.

From the second group: Luc Krotwaar is running away from all other athletes in the 2nd group. Just before 35 km: taking 7th place by overtaking Luke Kibet. 35 km: intermediate: 1.48.28, going as fast as the leading two athletes…

Womens race: little gap between Takami and Masako. Pace: 1.41.53, pace 2.23!

Dutch championships: Jeroen van Damme out (as Aitnafa, way earlier), Smits in trouble, Hugo van den Broek doing well.

To the list of cities Cancun, Mexico City, Berlin, Milan and Paris can be added … Rotterdam. Simon Biwotts average is back to fifty percent: six wins out of twelve marathons. The 34-year old Kenyan won the Fortis Rotterdam Marathon in the time of 2.08.39. Second his countryman Cheruiyot (1.04 behind) and the strong José Manuel Martinez (2.09.54). Together with the Spaniard debutant, Dutchman Luc Krotwaar (5th Dutch championship and 5th in the race behind kenyan Kahugu/2.10.48) had the strongest last kilometers, that gave him a personal best of almost two minutes: 2.10.59.

Although I’ve seen little of the womens race, it was clear from the splits that the time would be impressive. And indeed: Ominami Takami bettered her personal best by more than two minutes: 2.23.43 (unofficial time).

To conclude, below the results as publised here in the Rotterdam pressroom.

1, Simon Biwott, KEN, 2:08:39
2, Kenneth Cheruiyot, KEN, 2:09:43*
3, José Manuel Martinez, ESP, 2:09:55 debut
4, Joseph Kahugu, KEN, 2:10:48
5, Luc Krotwaar, NED, 2:10:59 pb/dutch champion

18, Hugo van de Broek, NED, 2:19:38 pb
19, Dick van de Broek, NED, 2:20:10

1, Takami Ominami, JPN, 2:23:43 pb
2, Masako Chiba, JPN, 2:25:11 pb
3, Junko Akagi, JPN, 2:29:10

7, Vivian Ruijters, NED, 2:37:36
8, Annelieke van der Sluijs, NED, 2:41:07
9, Agnes Hijman, NED, 2:47:21 (1st W40)

Time-to-Run would like to thank Wilmar Kortleever (athletics reporter – Leiden/The Netherlands)

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