Despite injury, heat Kibet still shines.
Luke Kibet hobbled away from the finish of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon this morning. But the former world champion had staved off a troublesome achilles’ tendon long enough to shatter his own course record, and win in 2.11.25, an achievement made even more extraordinary by the 31C heat and 77% humidity.
When he won last year, in 2.13.01, he beat young Kenyan colleague Johnstone Chepkwony by over two minutes. This morning, Kibet needed a sprint finish to keep Chepkwony at bay.
A repeat one-two seemed unlikely before the race, given the vastly improved field, tempted to endure the atmospheric conditions by the lure of US$35,000 first prize, with $19,000 for second, and $10,000 for third.
Accordingly, a dozen or more men set out with intent, and were a minute up on record pace after 10k. Vincent Krop, better known as a half-marathoner had agreed to take the pace, with the intention of finishing the race, if he felt OK.
He certainly fulfilled all expectations when he finished third. But so did Kibet. He had forecast that if the improved field worked together, and Krop did his job, even in the warm conditions, a sub-2.12 was possible.
By 30k, everything was falling into place. Kibet favouring his left achilles’ tendon had kept in the lee of the pack, while Krop, Leonard Mucheru, and Chepkwony had forced the pace.
Mucheru was first to drop, at 36k, followed by Krop, just before 40k. Kibet then tested Chepkwony with a surge, to which the 25 year old responded. But it obviously told Kibet all he needed to know, because when they entered the finishing straight together, the 2007 world champion eased away to victory, with Chepkwony finishing second, in a personal best 2.11.33. Krop was also under the previous record, in 2.11.51. And a former winner, John Kelai finished fourth in 2.13.16.
“I was protecting my achilles’, so I stayed behind at first,” said Kibet. “I was waiting for the kick. This year was less humid, so we were able to run faster, but it is still difficult conditions. I think I will have to go back to Germany for treatment, to Dr Mueller (Wohlfahrt), but I’d like to race again next April”.
As for the conditions, which are perennially difficult in Singapore, second-place Chepkwony was in no doubt. “Two-eleven here is like 2.06, 2.07 in a cooler place”.
Lyubov Morgunova of Russia thought she had done more than enough to win the women’s event. But the Muscovite veteran of over 40 marathons had reckoned without her young compatriot, Albina Mayorova-Ivanova.
Morgunova, 38, had taken up the running after a slowish first 10k, and her attritional pace had put paid to a posse of pursuers, until only Magdalene Chemjor of Kenya was left in contention. A couple of steady accelerations put paid to Chemjor’s hopes, and she faded to seventh. And the last 10k looked like a formality for Morgunova. Until Mayorova-Ivanova hove onto the horizon, and started closing the gap with startling speed.
From 10th at halfway, in 1.17.28, over a half minute behind the leaders, she caught Morgunova by 35k, and ran a ‘negative split’ – a faster second half – of 1.15.21, to win easily in 2.32.49, second only to Salina Kosgei’s 2.31.55 in 2006.
“This is very important for my career, to win coming back after my first baby,” said Mayorova-Ivanova. “I felt very comfortable at halfway, and I could still see the leaders, that they weren’t going away. This is a good time for the conditions”.
Morgunova hung in to finish second in 2.34.49, and Mary Akor Beasley of the USA was a surprise third, in 2.36.44. But she collapsed over the finish line, and had to be stretchered off to recover.
Place/bib name country time prize US$
1 1 Luke KIBET KEN 2.11.25 35000
2 23 Johnstone CHEPKWONY KEN 2.11.33 19000
3 26 Vincent KROP KEN 2.11.51 10000
4 8 John KELAI KEN 2.13.14 6000
5 9 Leonard MUCHERU KEN 2.15.18 4500
6 15 Duncan KOECH KEN 2.15.54 3500
7 21 Robert John STEPHEN TAN 2.16.40 2500
8 2 Vincent KIPSOS KEN 2.19.26 2000
9 14 Stanley RONO KEN 2.19.52 1500
10 17 Sammy TUM KEN 2.20.52 1300
1 71 Albina MAYOROVA-IVANOVA/RUS 2.32.49 35000
2 70 Lyubov MORGUNOVA RUS 2.34.49 16000
3 78 Mary AKOR-BEASLEY USA 2.36.44 7000
4 79 Jacquiline NYETIPI KEN 2.37.56 5000
5 76 Leah MALOT KEN 2.38.02 3500
6 84 Emily KIMURIA KEN 2.40.02 2500
7 73 Magdalene CHEMJOR KEN 2.41.29 2000
8 81 AbereshTESFAYE ETH 2.41.40 1500
9 151 Irene MOGAKA KEN 2.42.22 1100
10 80 Alem ASHEBIER ETH 2.42.26 1000