Tadesse/Mesel Record Same Time in Prague Half

By Joe Battaglia

(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)

(06-Apr) — Zersenay Tadese came here in the hopes of making history.
Instead, he found himself in a battle against the elements and in a
footrace with one of his training partners.

Tadese, the
five-time world champion, did not come close to breaking his world
record and needed every ounce of his being to hold off fellow Eritrean
Amanuel Mesel to win the Hervis Prague Half-Marathon in 60 minutes, 10
seconds. Mesel, 22, didn’t obtain his visa to compete here until
Thursday yet finished as the unexpected runner-up in the same time.

all focus was on the men’s record chase, it was actually the women’s
race that produced the day’s most stellar result as Gladys Cherono of
Kenya pulled away from her competitors quite early and cruised to
victory in 1:06:48, smashing the course record of 1:07:03 set last year
by Joyce Chepkirui and recording the fourth-fastest time in the world
this year.

“Last night, I dreamed of competing and running
well,” Cherono said. “But there was nothing in my dream about the
finish or the course record.”

It was the dream of race
organizers that the men’s race would produce a legitimate attack on
Tadese’s world record of 58:23 set in 2010 at the Lisbon Half-Marathon.
A ‰Û_¬100,000 bonus was offered for such a time. But the weather had cast
doubts all week on the feasibility of that attempt, and unseasonably
cold temperatures continued on race day with the mercury holding at
4C/39F at the start with 15 km/s winds and 85 percent humidity.

claimed afterward that it was one of the coldest days he has raced on
and also acknowledged having problems with the sections of the course
made up of the cobblestone that gives this city its medieval charm.
However, it might have actually been the health of the race’s
protagonist that proved to be the biggest obstacle.

after crossing the finish, Tadese explained to Czech Television that he
had been suffering from flu-like symptoms the night prior to the race
and added that his “body felt heavy” during the race.

That may
have indeed been the case as the elite runners, led by Ethiopian pacers
Fidaku Haftu and Teshome Mekonen, plodded through the opening five
kilometers in 14:07, immediately setting the projected finishing time
about one minute off world-record pace.

About eight minutes
later, Tadese tired of the slow-ish pacing and took to leading the race
himself. It was at that point that the lead group of 10 runners
splintered greatly. Four athletes, Mesel and Kenyans John Kipsang, Pius
Maiyo Kiprop and Henry Kiplagat, followed Tadese and formed the lead
pack of five that quickly opened about a 150-meter lead on the chase
group and ran shoulder to shoulder for nearly the rest of the way.

the pace quickened somewhat, the runners were still off world-record
form. Kiprop and Tadese hit the 10-K mark in 28:13. For point of
comparison, that split was 20 seconds slower than Tadese ran during his
world-record race in Lisbon in 2010 and 10 seconds slower than
Ethiopia’s Atsedu Tsegay covered the opening 10-K in during his
course-record and world-leading run of 58:47 here last year.

world record was no longer on anyone’s mind at the 15-K, which was hit
in 42:38, nearly a minute slower than Tadese had originally planned. At
that point the question became who was going to win the race. None of
the lead five had shown signs of breaking. Kipsang had appeared to be
the strongest of the group. He threw in surges on three occasions,
beginning around the 44-minute mark, to try and drop some of his
competitors but each move was covered easily.

After the leaders
went through 20-K in 57:15, Mesel made a push to the front that began
to string things out. Tadese gave chase and Kipsang followed, but
Kiprop and Kiplagat fell off. Tadese moved in front of Mesel and
dropped Kipsang, rounding onto Manesuv Bridge and heading toward the
finish. Mesel gave one last attempt to regain the lead but Tadese held
him off for the victory.

Tadese wound up covering the final
kilometer in 2:56, which is about 4:18 per mile pace. Mesel, who
competed in the 5000m final at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu,
finished second in 60:10, smashing his personal best of 61:20 set in
2011. Kipsang was third in 60:15, obliterating his prior PB of 61:50
set in Zwolle last year.

“My plan was to accelerate with 500
meters to go,” Tadese said. “But my friend Amanuel here kicked with one
kilometer left so I had to go with him.”


women’s race figured to play out as a duel between Cherono, who
established her previous personal-best of 68:18 in a third-place finish
here last year, and Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa, who clocked a
personal-best 67:49 at the Roma-Ostia Half Marathon last month.

early goings saw those two women, as well as Kenyan veteran Isabellah
Ochichi, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the 5000m, and Ethiopia’s
Waganesh Mekasha tucked closely behind Ukrainian (male) pacer Vassily
Matvichuk. That group of four went through the 5-K in 15:56, trailed
closely by three other women. Ochichi was just one second behind the
other three at the 10-K mark, which they went through in a swift 32:02.

was over the next five kilometers that Cherono began to exert her will
on the others. At the 15-K, she began to open a small lead on Degefa
and had already dropped Ochichi and Mekasha. Cherono continued to pull
away over the next five kilometers, and by the 20-K mark she was clear
of Degefa by one minute and nine seconds and just five seconds off
course-record pace.

“At no point did I think that I was going
to break the course record,” Cherono said. “It wasn’t until I crossed
the finish and looked up and saw the time that I knew I had broken it.”

1. Zersenay Tadese, ERI, 60:10
2. Amanuel Mesel, ERI, 60:10 PB
3. John Kipsang, KEN, 60:15 PB
4. Pius Maiyo Kiprop, KEN, 60:18
5. Henry Kiplagat, KEN, 60:21
6. Abere Kassw, ETH, 61:17
7. Tigabu Gebremaryam, ETH, 61:28 PB
8. Daniel Chebii, KEN, 61:52
9. Teklemariam Medhin, ERI, 61:55 PB (debut)
10. Philemon Limo, KEN, 61:57

1. Gladys Cherono, KEN, 66:48 CR/PB
2. Worknesh Degefa, ETH, 68:12
3. Isabella Ochichi, KEN, 69:21
4. Waganesh Mekasha, ETH, 69:31
5. Ehitu Kiros, ETH, 69:38 PR
6. Agnes Katunge Mutune, KEN, 70:06
7. Pamela Lisoreng, KEN, 70:09 PR
8. Edinah Kwambai, KEN, 72:40
9. Mary Wangari Wanjohi, KEN, 73:13 PR
10. Azusa Nojiri, JPN, 75:15

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