|A stellar show. That pretty much sums up Galen Rupp’s performance at the IAAF Gold Label Volkswagen Prague Marathon held on a Sunday, 6th of May. The American long-distance runner didn’t give his rivals a chance in this race which not only saw him scoop up first place but also significantly enhance his personal best. Rupp is also the first runner born outside of Africa to win the Volkswagen Prague Marathon (the second race in the RunCzech 2018 season) in 11 years. The women’s race played host to a surprise victory by Kenyan talent Bornes Jepkirui Kitur. The 24th edition of Prague marathon was started by Lord Sebastian Coe, the IAAF President. |
The talk about town before the race revolved around these two hot favourites – Sisay Lemma and Galen Rupp. And seeing both run side-by-side right from the start proved the predictions to be spot on. The American left it till the last four kilometres to crank up his pace, however in what played out as a gripping duel between the two and sweet victory for Gallen.
“Sisay is a really great marathon runner, it was no easy feat and I’m really pleased I managed to defeat him and win. I tried to keep a check on my pace, to get into it and stay positive. I’d like to say thanks to Carlo and his RunCzech team for inviting me to Prague and for making it possible for me to be the first American to win here, and to do so in such a good time too,” a clearly joyous Rupp revealed at the finish. He managed to enhance his personal best by more than three minutes taking him to 2:06:07 (the event record is 2:05:39 set by Eliud Kiptanui in 2010), adding a Prague victory to his two Olympic medals and marathon win in Chicago. Sisay Lemma came second with a time of 2:07:03 followed by Stephen Kwelio Chemlany (2:09:42) in third place arriving at Old Town Square in 2:09:42.
By contrast few could have predicted the results in the women’s race. Kenyan runner Bornes Jepkirui Kitur wasn’t even considered in the hot favourite group before the race, but she managed to stay ahead of all of them, running to a clear victory and time of 2:24:19. “I had a really good race, the only slight issue I found were the cobblestones. I managed to shave more than four minutes off my personal best and am really delighted to have won,” shared the winning Kenyan. The second and third podium spots went to two runners from Ethiopia - Belaynesh Oljira (2:25:13) finishing second followed by Amane Gobena (2:27:43) in third place.
The Czech men delivered a gripping show too. Jiří Homoláč led from the start however was held back by a necessary stop and for a while it looked like Vít Pavlišta might pick up the championship title. Homoláč refused to give up however, getting a second wind as he approached Těšnov tunnel and leaving his rival behind. “It wasn’t a complete crisis, but I had to take a toilet break at the 29th kilometre and Vítek got ahead of me. He didn’t get that far though and despite taking a bit to get back into it, my legs eventually started working again. I mostly wanted to enjoy today and I’m delighted that it was enough to secure a win,” said Homoláč who finished in 2:20:09, unfortunately not enough to qualify for the European Championships. Vít Pavlišta finished second in 2:20:30, followed by Petr Pechek (2:22:25) in third place.
Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová’s absence from the event opened up the opportunity for Petra Pastorová to defend her championship title from last year. The runner, who hails from Vítkovice, managed to stay well ahead of her rivals finishing in 2:48:40 and scooping up her fourth national championship title. “I’m getting over an injury and haven’t clocked up many kilometres so it was pretty tough for me in the end. At the half-marathon point I could still spot Ivana Sekyrová behind me but then I didn’t see anyone and ran at my own pace,” Pastorová revealed. The three best Czech women all crossed the finish within one minute and eleven seconds of each other. Marcela Joglová came close to a surprise win, though ended up finishing second in 2:49:17, followed by Ivana Sekyrová in 2:49:51.
The Volkswagen Prague Marathon also plays host to the final round of a relay race for high school students – the Junior Marathon. The ten-member teams, comprising at least three girl members, take on the marathon distance with each student running 4.2 kilometres. Taking first place on the podium was the Ludvík Daňěk Sports Grammar School in Brno (2:30:57), followed by the Jilemnice Grammar School and Secondary School (2:34:01), and Příbram Grammar School finishing third (2:35:39).
A grand total of 9 778 took part in this year’s Volkswagen Prague Marathon, among which the organizers could welcome also the one millionth runner who was registered since 1995 when the first Prague Marathon was held.
Watch the highlights of the race here.
1. GALEN RUPP | USA | 2:06:07
2. SISAY LEMMA | ETH | 2:07:03
3. STEPHEN KWELIO CHEMLAY | KEN | 2:09:42
4. BARSELIUS KIPYEGO | KEN | 2:10:18
5. YUMA HATTORI | JPN | 2:10:26
6. MEKUANT AYENEW | ETH | 2:10:43
7. DUNCAN MAIYO | KEN | 2:14:54
8. SUEHIRO ISHIKAWA | JPN | 2:16:39
9. JIŘÍ HOMOLÁČ | CZE | 2:20:09
10. VÍT PAVLIŠTA | CZE | 2:20:30
1. BORNES JEPKIRUI KITUR | KEN | 2:24:19
2. BELAYNESH OLJIRA | ETH | 2:25:13
3. AMANE GOBENA | ETH | 2:27:43
4. RISPER CHEBET | KEN | 2:29:32
5. SUSAN JEPTOO | KEN | 2:30:50
6. FLOMENA CHEPCHIRCHIR | KEN | 2:32:10
7. GLORIA RITA GIUDICI | ITA | 2:48:02
8. PETRA PASTOROVÁ | CZE | 2:48:40
9. MARCELA JOGLOVÁ | CZE | 2:49:17
10. IVANA SEKYROVÁ | CZE | 2:49:51