Kenya’s Hellen Obiri and Rodgers Kwemoi had quite the victories on Sunday at the N Kolay Istanbul Half Marathon, a World Athletics elite road race. Obiri ran the 10th fastest women’s marathon time while Kwemoi broke the course record. Both athletes beat a strong field, starting off the race with quite the pace. Although the sweltering heat did not allow them to keep up with the world record pace, they did manage to breeze past the rest of the contenders to take a dominant victory.
Obiri, the two time world champion in 5000m ran a time of 1:04:48 to win more than a minute ahead of second place winner Ethiopia’s Tsehay Gemechu. Kwemoi on the other hand ran a 59:15 to improve the course record ahead of Daniel Mateiko.
“The wind was very strong” : Hellen Obiri and Kwemoi share sentiments about Istanbul half marathon race
Obiri and second place winner Gemechu started off the marathon behind a male pacemaker, keeping together till the 5km mark. However Obiri formed a gap between her and Gemechu which could not be maintained due to the winds. Yet, Obiri powered ahead and by the 10km mark she was off on her own.
“It was so windy during the second half. I would have been able to run quite a bit faster without the wind, but it was nonetheless a good race,” said Obiri according to worldathletics.com. She is currently now back to focusing on short distance races. “I want to run the 5000m at the World Championships since I am the defending champion. My first marathon will then more likely follow in 2023.”
The men’s race began in the same way, with Kwemoi, Mateiko and Bor keeping pace at the front. Bor soon fell out at the 5km mark. By 20km Kwemoi had created enough of a distance between himself and Mateiko, winning the marathon by almost a minute.
“It was a good race, but the wind was very strong and I also felt my hamstring at around 10km, so I could not go that fast any more,” said Rodgers Kwemoi. Kwemoi now shifts his focus on the 10000m but said that he will run a marathon after the 2024 Olympics.