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Paris 2003 Day 9 – Women’s marathon

Day 9 of the Paris 2003 World Track Championships, saw the running of the Women’s marathon along the same route as the Men’s and at the same start time..

The race was no different from the Men’s when it came to the size of the front pack, and there were spills to talk about, plus the folly of some athletes and the guile of others.

Below the race reports and thoughts as the event unfolded :

Constantina Tomescu [nee Dita], is known for taking the pace out early, and the Paris World Championships Marathon would be no different. All the main contenders were happy to stay in the safe confines of the massive chasing group.

By 5K the Romanian’s lead was 32 seconds. It seemed strange that a pack of athletes filled with PB’s [Personal Bests] closer to 2:20 would be running a pace closer to 2Hr 30 and allow a 2Hr 23 performer [from 2003] a plus 30 second lead. The leader passed through 5K in 16:45 with the pack following in 17:17 [ 5K split ]

Foolhardy, would be mentioned in some circles. The Japanese runners were undoubtedly the favourites to take the team event, and it was understandable to find two of their less fancied runners doing all the work at the head of the pack in honour of their premier contenders Masako Chiba [PB 2:21:45 – 2003], Naoko Sukamato [PB 2:21:51 -2003] and Mizuki Noguchi [PB 2:21:18 – 2003].

It was certainly strange to see Moroccan athlete, Whabi Kenza with a best of 2:38.36, the first to openly leave the pack to give chase. She soon returned to the pack. 30 minutes into the race and the lead has been chipped away slowly to 20 seconds.

At 10K, Tomescu 34:02 with the pack 34:14 10K split A lead of only 12 seconds.

Watching the lead group go through water points is hair raising. To be scurrying for your own designated bottle can only be described as a nightmare.

At 13K, the pack were a mere 2 to 3 seconds behind, and it was only a matter of time before they caught the lone Romanian frontrunner. 48mins into the race and Tomescu was swallowed by the lead pack, at Avenue des Champs Élysées no less. Now the decision as to who would provide the pace needed to be made. The Romanians where happy to answer the call. Nuta Olaru [PB 2:25:18] was happy to continue the work with Tomescu. The pack thought differently, and an increase in tempo ‘spat’ Tomescu out the back. The Japanese were intent on consolidating their chances of capturing the Team event and the separation was surgical in its application. Tomescu hung in the background for a while, however the pace never slackened for her to return, she would eventually DNF [Did Not Finish]

15K split was passed in 51:19.

Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, the 2nd fastest women in history [PB 2:18:47] was running a cagey race, not making any demands on the lead, but certainly conserving her energy for when it would be called upon.

21K split was passed in 72:46.

Shortly after half-way, the Kenyan comes to the front and the intention is clear. They are four abreast and the tempo has certainly altered. No sooner had Catherine the Great appeared to spur on the pace, did she with the speed of Greta Garbo hidden behind sunglasses, return to the anonymity of the pack. Was this a tester for future reference ?

Water point …. scatter … grab … bounce … Olivera Jevtic [PB 2:25:23 Rottergam 2003] takes a shower under the provided appliance . Its all happening.

Just before 25K [split] and Japanese longtime pack leader Takami Ominami [PB 2:23:43 Rotterdam 2002] takes a tumble. Running in a large pack/group is risky business, a clip of the heels can be fatal. Anything that interferes with the normal kick and flow of the legs movement can result in a fall. She soon returns to the pack and it will be interesting to see whether this will have an impact on her race the further she travels. [ she would eventually finish 27th in 2:32:31 ] Ethiopian Elfenesh Alemu [PB 2:24:29 London 2001] the offending trip artist. Not 10 minutes later, and Ethiopian Asha Gigi is taken down, with a certain Alemu in directly behind her.

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