Despite A Fall, Edna Kiplagat Wins Marathon Title

Edna Kiplagat is the new world marathon champion. Photo: Getty Images

Edna Kiplagat is the new world marathon champion. Photo: Getty Images

The top American was 17th-place finisher Tera Moody.

By David Monti (c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission

DAEGU (27-Aug) — For more than two hours, everything was going according to plan for Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat at this morning’s IAAF World Championships marathon for women.

In cloudy, warm and very humid conditions, the race had moved through the first half in a leisurely 76:46, and Kiplagat was just riding along at the back of a 30-woman lead pack, saving her energy. “It was part of my strategy to run my second half faster,” Kiplagat told reporters after the race. “As I was training, in knew the weather would be humid. I was expecting the weather to be warm. I knew it was going to be warm.”

When the pace finally picked up past 30 kilometers, Kiplagat’s plan was still working just fine. She and teammates Sharon Cherop and Priscah Jeptoo, and Ethiopia’s Aberu Kebede, would eventually pull away from the field.

Kiplagat, the 2010 ING New York City Marathon champion, felt confident and started to push the pace even harder in a bid for victory. “At 33 kilometers I tried to run in front of the group,” she said. “When I looked back two times I found the group was not running quick, following me. So I tried to put in more effort. I had something in mind to push and run faster and win the race.”

Kebede fell off of the back (she would finish 12th), and Kiplagat’s acceleration allowed her to put some daylight on both of her teammates. But Cherop fought back, and drew even with Kiplagat in advance of a water station in the 38th kilometer. Then disaster struck. Cherop reached to the right for a bottle, and Kiplagat did the same in front of her. The two tangled their legs, and Kiplagat fell hard to the pavement. Cherop paused to see if her teammate was all right.

“It was not my fault,” Cherop said after the race. “But seeing that my friend had fallen down I had to wait for her.” Kiplagat got up quickly, shaking off the initial impact. “Yes I was a little shocked,” she admitted. “What was in my mind I don’t know if I’m going to get up and pick it up again. I found myself running good again. It was a surprise.”

In the remaining kilometers, Kiplagat continued to gather steam. By the 40-kilometer mark she had 11 seconds on Cherop, who had slipped to third, and nine seconds on Jeptoo. The Kenyans were going to sweep the podium, and Kiplagat would become only the second Kenyan woman after Catherine Ndereba to win a world marathon title. “Being the first time representing my country in a championships, I’m very happy because I didn’t know that I was going to be a winner,” she said. “Being the winner today I’m pretty happy.” Kiplagat completed her second half in a swift 71:57, to clock 2:28:43 at the finish.

Jeptoo followed in 2:29:00 to take the silver, and Cherop ran 2:29:14 to take the bronze. Cherop had to push the final meters to avoid being overtaken by Ethiopia’s Bezunesh Bekele, who finished fourth in 2:29:21. In the World Marathon Cup, which is scored based on the top-3 times from each five-woman team, Ethiopia finished second behind Kenya, and the Chinese –led by Zhu Xiaolin in sixth place– finished third.

The best finish by an American came from Tera Moody, who was 17th in 2:32:04. She ran most of the race with the lead group before fading in the final kilomters. “I just kind of wanted to run my own race and block everybody out,” said Moody who lives in Colorado Springs. She said she needed to stay on at the leaders’ pace because she she didn’t have the ability to run a superfast second half. “I’m not going to close in 1:10,” she said.

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