Kenya’s Michael Kunyuga showed superb resilience, finishing the Hannover Marathon in a manner rarely seen among elite runners: he collapsed a few metres from the finish but kept going by crawling over the line to finish second in 2:10:16.
Kunyuga managed to barely hold off his compatriot Duncan Koech who clocked 2:10:19 and his determination was rewarded with a personal best as well as the runner-up spot.
The race characterized by sunny conditions and rising temperatures was won by Ethiopia’s Seboka Negusse while Kenyan Agnes Kiprop won the women’s race.
An eight-strong group reached halfway in 1:04:12. The pacemakers had fulfilled their task to the letter, putting the field at this point on target to attack the course record of 2:08:32.
At this time the favourite Gilbert Kirwa, whose 2:06:14 made him the fastest on the start list, was already a minute off the pace and dropped out soon after, having encountered problems earlier.
As temperatures rose the lead group slackened their pace and the prospect of attacking the course record slipped out of reach.
Shortly after reaching 30 kilometres in 1:31:53, four runners broke away from the lead group with Koech leading from Kunyuga and Ethiopians Negusse and Mengistu Gezahagan. With 35 kilometres behind him, Negusse made what proved to be a decisive break.
“I’m so happy to have won my first marathon,” he said. “The weather didn’t give me any problems.”
The men’s elite field did not feature any German runners and home hopes were also dashed by Fate Tola in the women’s race.
Last year’s women’s champion dropped out at 17 kilometres, suffering from a heavy cold and cough. Victory went to Kiprop in 2:32:35 with Akmaral Meirman of Kazakhstan finishing a distant second in 2:55:58.
The women’s elite field was seriously affected by withdrawals because of injury and visa problems in the days leading up to the race which included a group of Ethiopian runners who were unable to arrive in Hanover in time.
Seboka Negussa, ETH, 2:09:44
Michael Kunyuga, KEN, 2:10:16
Duncan Koech, KEN, 2:10:19
Justus Kiprotich, KEN, 2:11:11
Agnes Kiprop, KEN, 2:32:35
Akmaral Meirman, KAZ, 2:55:58