Edna Kiplagat and her Kenyan team wrote the script for the Women’s marathon, on the opening day of the 13th IAAF World Championships in Daegu (Saturday).
Kiplagat was rarely seen in the lead for the first 30km, content to let Ethiopian Bezunesh Bekele lead a large pack through 5km in 18:43, 10km in 36:26 and the first half in 1:16:46.
There was method in the Kenyans madness. With the effective temperature increasing from 27oC to over 30 it was never going to be a fast marathon, but having conserved their energy for the last nine kilometres, the trio of Kiplagat, Priscah Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop let loose with only Ethiopia’s Aberu Kebede able to hang to their slipstream.
With only 5km remaining Kiplagat and Cherop tangled legs as they went for the water table, but managed to regain their balance.
The race was effectively over the only question remained about the time. Kiplagat’s two hour 28 minute 43 second victory was initiated from a 16:10 split between the 35 and 40km. The Kenyan purged the second half in 1:11:57, which is the greatest differential between halves seen in any woman’s world championship.
Although the Kenyans clean sweep of the podium assured them of the World Cup marathon title, only 84 seconds separated second to fourth. As positions changed towards the line China secured second ahead of Ethiopia with Japan missing the podium.
Rene Kalmer and Annerien van Schalkwyk had baptisms of fire in their world championships debuts, where they missed the experience of Tanith Maxwell who withdrew two weeks ago with a toe problem.
The duo went off with the leaders for the first 5km, at which time van Schalkwyk recognized the need to slow the pace, while a determined Kalmer attempted to remain in amongst the sub 2:25 marathoners.
“ It was erratic – the pace picked up for every water table, then slowed. It was my second competitive marathon so …,” said Kalmer. “It was a brave run I went with the front guys then from 25km I was basically in no man’s land. My plan was to go out at 2:35 pace, which is what I basically did. It was just the last 12 km that I battled.”
As experienced runners picked up the pace Kalmer dropped through the field taking 9 minutes 22 seconds for the last 2.2km and finishing 31st out of 55 starters.
Van Schalkwyk chose the more conservative option going through 20km in 42 position to finish 37th overall.
“I thought I was starting easy at 3:40 per km, but I forgot how long a marathon is. Its humid but you don’t notice it,” said van Schalkwyk. “I was going out with 2:20 marathoners, but made a mistake. I wanted to go with them but I paid the price, dearly, ” said van Schalkwyk who crossed the line in 2:43:59.
“ I had a few niggles (going into the race), but it cant be too bad I ran. I can sort it out” continued van Schalkwyk about the strapping of her lower back and hamstring.
Kalmer also went into the race with strapping above and below the knee. “I had some problems with my ITB from the flight,” said Kalmer after the race.
In discussing the way the USA team had moved through the field from behind van Schalkwyk said “In South Africa everyone is for themselves. We don’t have camps, we train alone, you don’t have that partnership with one another.” “ I don’t know when the change will come, We need to work at change, we need to work at it and its got to come from us as individuals.”
“If we never train as a team how can Rene run my pace or I run Rene’s pace. I’m a team player so it would suit me. If we want to do something (in London 2012) then we have to run as a team,”
“ I don’t think there’s enough strength in depth at present, but I know there are more (runners) wanting to qualify for London. If we can work as a team we can do it (in London 2012 Olympics),” added Kalmer.