Violah Jepchumba (Kenya) and Ali Kaya (Turkey) winning at the 2016 Istanbul Half Marathon / Photo Credit: Bob Ramsak

Kenya’s Violah Jepchumba and Ali Kaya of Turkey cruised to dominating victories at the third edition of the Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Sunday.

Ali Kaya, last year’s European cross country champion, clocked 1:00:16 to win by 15 seconds in a race that feature a rare head-­to-­head battle between world record holders Zersenay Tadese and Leonard Komon.

"It felt very, very good," said Kaya, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on April 20, when sizing up his first victory in a road race. “I finished with a lot of power.

"For sure I could have been even faster. We were hoping for under 60 minutes." But a sluggish 15:04 opening 5km immediately put the goal of Istanbul’s first sub-­‐one hour race in jeopardy.

Kaya (born as Stanley Kiprotich Mukche in Kenya) said his focus will now turn towards a 5000m/10,000m double at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

He was a finalist at both distances at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 last summer, finishing seventh in the longer race

Tadese broke from Kenyan Leonard Langat with just under a kilometre remaining to finish second in 1:00:31, in his first race since late November, with Langat third in 1:00:39 while Leonard Komon was a distant fourth in 1:00:48.

In the women’s race, Violah Jepchumba, the world leader, prevailed in 1:08:17, more than a minute clear of Ethiopian Meskerem Assefa.

Arriving just three weeks from her world-leading 1:05:51 performance in Prague, Jepchumba was clearly the woman to beat, a role she lived up to valiantly.

Running alone on the largely flat picturesque out-and-back course along the Sea of Marmara, the 25-year-old Jepchumba was already nine seconds ahead of Assefa after 5km and forged on to increase her lead with every passing kilometre.

At 10km, reached in 31:37, she was 37 seconds ahead; at 15km was passed in 47:25 and Jepchumba was a full minute clear of her closest pursuer.

“Running by myself is easy,” commented Jepchumba. “The wind was a problem towards the end, and it was hot.”

Unlike Kaya, Jepchumba isn’t eyeing Rio Olympics and, instead, her mind is already on her next half marathon, the Goteborgsvarvet Half Marathon in Gothenburg, Sweden, next month.

“I like (this distance) very much,” she said.

Ethiopia’s Meskerem Assefa clocked 1:09:39 to finish second with her compatriot Amane Gobena third in 1:09:50.

Selected Results - 2016 Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon:


  1. Ali Kaya, Turkey, 1:00:16
  2. Zersenay Tadese, Eritrea, 1:00:31
  3. Leonard Kipkoech Langat, Kenya, 1:00:39
  4. Leonard Patrick Komon, Kenya, 1:00:48
  5. Kenneth Kipkemoi Kiprop, Kenya, 1:01:09


  1. Violah Jepchumba, Kenya , 1:08:17
  2. Meskerem Assefa, Ethiopia, 1:09:39
  3. Amane Gobena, Ethiopia, 1:09:50
  4. Alemitu Bekele, Turkey, 1:15:26
  5. Chaltu Negesse, Ethiopia, 1:15:38