A year ago Patrick Terer finished third after an adventurous and tiring last minute trip to the Czech capital. The Kenyan said he would return this year and win, and that is what he did on Sunday at the Volkswagen Prague Marathon.
In difficult weather conditions with some strong wind and rain in the final stages the 23 year-old won the 20th anniversary edition of the Volkswagen Prague Marathon with a personal best of 2:08:07.
It was a close race with fellow-Kenyan Evans Chebet crossing the line only ten seconds adrift. Zimbabwe’s Cuthbert Nyasango broke the national record in finishing third in 2:09:52.
In contrast the day proved disappointing for Moses Mosop. The Kenyan, who is the second fastest marathon runner ever with his run of 2:03:06 for runner-up in Boston in 2011, finished down the field in 12th place with 2:20:37.
Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia took the women’s title, dominating the action to win in 2:23:34. Her compatriots Fantu Eticha and Ashete Bekere were well behind in second and third with 2:27:31 and 2:28:04 respectively.
Around 10,000 runners entered the Volkswagen Prague Marathon, which is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Peter Kirui was one of the key pacemakers, taking the lead group through 10K in 30:05. The thought crossed the minds of quite a few onlookers that this might turn into another story along the lines of: “Pacemaker turns racer to win”, since Kirui had won the city’s half marathon in handsome style five weeks ago.
He looked strong, in contrast to Moses Mosop who was already a minute behind the group at that point. And while the group of ten runners carried on to the half marathon point in 63:34, Mosop lost much more ground, going through in 68:19.
However the Kenyan, who was the fastest runner ever to line up for the Volkswagen Prague Marathon, showed the determination which has made him such a formidable competitor, refusing the easy option when he was clearly struggling. The route passed the athletes’ hotel a couple of times, but Mosop did not yield to temptation.
"My body felt empty from the start. I was not able to do enough speedwork due to an injury, but I will have a new start after some rest," said Mosop after the race.
"One never knows how far one can go after injuries and I was cautious in training. That did cost me 10 to 12 seconds per kilometre. The rest was lost in the process of a bad race, but I wanted to finish, show respect and thank organizers and people of Prague for their hospitality and support," Mosop added.
When Kirui ceased his pacemaking duties shortly after 30K, Terer and Chebet made their move and carved out a big gap straightaway. “It was our plan to attack once the pacemaker was out of the race,” explained Terer later.
At the 35K point it looked as if Chebet could get away. But after loosing a couple of metres at a drinks station, Terer soon was back in front and then it was his turn: He opened a gap of four seconds in the 37th kilometre and gradually extended it to ten seconds.
Terer had to maintain his momentum because Chebet remained in contention, keeping the leader in sight right to the finish in the Old Town Square.
“This is a very important victory for me especially after what happened a year ago,” said Terer, who has now won three of his four marathons.
In addition to his victory in Prague, he has twice won in Torino, firstly in 2012 with 2:10:34 and then the following year with what was then his PB of 2:08:52. The only marathon he did not win was the Volkswagen Prague Marathon a year ago, but there were mitigating circumstances.
In the spring of 2013 Terer was supposed to run the Hannover Marathon. But a Schengen visa was made invalid by mistake in Nairobi, Kenya when he was about to fly to Hanover via Amsterdam. The organisers from Run Czech then managed to get him a new visa, but shortly before Terer was travelling, it was discovered that the start date of the visa was wrong.
Another urgent contact with the Czech embassy in Nairobi finally made sure that Terer could fly to Prague in 2013. Despite all these troubles Terer still finished third in 2:10:10. “Thank you for getting me here,” said Terer during last year’s press conference. Then he promised: “Next time I will come back and win it.”
Today Terer, who is coached by Italian Gabriele Nicola in Kenya, made another promise to the Prague organisers: “I had hoped for a time of 2:07:30 to 2:07:50 today. I did not achieve this. But if I will be able to start here again next year I promise to run 2:07:00.”
There was joy for Cuthbert Nyasango in third place. With a time of 2:09:52 he became the first athlete from Zimbabwe to clock a sub 2:10 time. Tendai Chimusasa was the former record holder with a time of 2.10:57 from 1998.
“It is great to break his record, because Tendai was my idol,” said Nyasango, who achieved surprise with seventh place in the Olympic marathon in 2012. “After that I had injury problems for more than a year. So this was a sort of comeback for me. I am very happy with my performance.”
Dado 'hot like fire'
While Terer improved from third to first place in the Czech capital there was also a Prague improvement for Firehiwot Dado; who just a month ago finished ninth in the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon with 71:15.
Not much suggested that Dado could produce such a commanding performance. Led by her manager Wellay Amare, who is a 2:12 marathoner and acted as pacemaker, she passed the half way mark in 1:11:45. By 30K she had dropped her closest rivals Ashete Bekere and Tsehay Desalegn.
Highly rated Flomena Chepchirchir of Kenya had struggled much earlier and finished tenth with 2:40:20. It looked as if 30 year-old Dado could break her personal best of 2:23:15, but rain and wind during the final section of the race slowed her.
“I had hoped to run even 2:20 to 2:21 but first we started too slow and then it was getting tough in the weather conditions,” said Dado.
- Patrick Terer KEN 2:08:07
- Evans Chebet KEN 2:08:17
- Cuthbert Nyasango ZIM 2:09:52 NR
- Nicholas Manza KEN 2:12:01
- Hillary Yego KEN 2:12:55
- Nicholas Kemboi QAT 2:13.03
- Firehiwot Dado ETH 2:23:34
- Fatu Eticha ETH 2:27.31
- Ashete Bekere ETH 2:28:04
- Tsehay Desalegn ETH 2:31:25
- Shuko Genemo ETH 2:32:19
- Konjit Tilahun ETH 2:34:14