Young Kenyan runs away from a loaded men’s field at ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.
Written by: Mario Fraioli
Matthew Kisorio of Kenya jumped out to an early lead and never relinquished it at the ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon on Sunday morning, crossing the finish line in an event record and personal best of 1 hour and 15 seconds to defeat arguably the most competitive half marathon field ever assembled on American soil.
“I’m very happy I did,” Kisorio said of his decision to make a big move early in the race. “Because first, I won the race. Second, I’m happy because I tried to run my personal best although I was running alone. The crowd was fantastic. I was looking to run under 1 hour, I wanted to run 59 (minutes) but I didn’t manage to do so because I was running in front throughout. Maybe I can prepare myself for the next race and I’ll run better than this.”
In winning, Kisorio took 12 seconds off Khalid Khannouchi’s event record of 1:00:27 set in 1997. Ethiopia’s Gebre Gebremariam took second in his half marathon debut, finishing 10 seconds behind the front-running Kosorio, who chopped 55 seconds off his previous personal best set earlier this year in Lisbon, Portugal.
After Kenyan Angus McDonald towed the field through an opening two miles of 9:08, Kisorio blew the race open with a 4:24 third mile. Gebremariam, the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country champion, was the only runner who went with the young Kenyan’s initial move, but was never able to close the gap on the 20-year-old Kisorio.
“He was very strong today,” Gebremariam said of Kisorio. “The pace was very fast.”
Kisorio rolled through 5 miles all by his lonesome in 22:31 and split 45:44 at 10 miles to leave everyone behind him wondering when he’d start to implode. He never did. Gebremariam, who won the Healthy Kidney 10K, Peachtree Road Race, Beach to Beacon 10K, and Falmouth Road Race this summer, spent almost the entire race in second place to suffer his first loss of the year. Defeat aside, it was a spectacular half marathon debut for the 26-year-old, who had previously never raced longer than 12K. Kisorio, who checked over his shoulder a few times throughout the race, kept close tabs on the late-charging Gebremariam but never let him get within real striking distance.
“I worried about him,” Kisorio admitted, “but I was feeling good and have trained well. He’s very, very good, but I was ready today.”
Brett Gotcher of Flagstaff, Arizona was the top American across the finish line in ninth place and the only domestic runner to place amongst the top 10. His 1:02:50 clocking proved to be a nice rebounding effort for the 2009 U.S. 20K champion, who finished a disappointing seventh at this year’s race in New Haven on Labor Day just 14 days ago.
“It was great,” said a smiling Gotcher, obviously pleased with his effort. “I just wanted to come out and try to compete today. I was hoping to run a little bit faster but the main goal was just to compete. I know a lot of these guys are getting ready for marathons in the next couple weeks so they’re maybe not at their absolute best but it’s still a great confidence boost for me to come out and get a couple scalps. “
Tim Nelson of the Oregon Track Club was the second American across the finish line, placing eleventh in 1:03:03. Nelson is preparing for his marathon debut this November in New York City. Defending champion and pre-race favorite Ryan Hall, who won here last year in 1:01:52, finished thirteenth overall in 1:03:55. Hall, who will run the Chicago Marathon three weeks from today, hung off the back of the chase pack for much of the race and was never a factor. Coming off a fourth-place finish at April’s Boston Marathon and a victory at the U.S. 7-Mile Championship earlier this summer, Hall was admittedly disappointed by his most recent effort.
“I was back off the chase pack,” Hall said. “I was just trying to find my own rhythm out there but I just didn’t feel good today.”