Ethiopian duo are too good for the rest as they claim titles in Turkish capital’s first ever international half-marathon, writes Wendy Sly
Sisay Lemma and Zewditu Gelaw won the inaugural Runkara Half-Marathon, a landmark race for organisers in Turkey.
Until Sunday (Oct 8), Ankara had been the only capital city in the world without a road race event – despite a population of over six million.
Appropriately starting within a stone’s throw of the Ataturk Mausoleum – Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded modern Turkey 100 years ago this month – the course looped around the western side of the city centre in glorious conditions.
The first ever international half-marathon in the Turkish capital had 4000 entries, including an eye-catching elite line-up.
Lemma, the 2021 London Marathon champion, was one of the standout names in the men’s race while home favourite Sultan Haydar looked to challenge Zewditu Gelaw and Roselidah Jepketer in the women’s field.
The men’s event saw Victor Mutai and Julius Kipchumba set the early pace as the leaders went through the undulating first 10km in 29:27. By the 12km mark a small group of six had broken away. They went through in 38:05 and at a solid pace, bearing in mind the hills and 860m altitude.
Bethwell Yegon, who finished second behind Guye Adola at the 2021 Berlin Marathon, battled Lemma for a large proportion of the race. Lemma continued to push hard and, around the 50-minute mark, with roughly 3km to go, broke away. The Ethiopian won by 18 seconds in a time of 61:09 ahead of compatriot Chimdessa Debele (61:27), while Kenya’s Vincent Nyageo 61:44 was third.
In the women’s race, Haydar – a former Ethiopian now running for Turkey – went through 10km in 32:01 (67:30 pace) along with Gelaw and Jepketer. Gelaw was the pre-race favourite and made her mark on the race when it mattered the most.
Running a strong last 6km, the Ethiopian finished in 68:28 to take first place, with Haydar (69:09) in second and Kenyan Vivian Kosgei (70:10), making her half-marathon debut, taking third.
The Runkara event is sure to go from strength to strength when finding its place on the international road racing calendar. Race Director Victoria Blyth was instrumental in putting it together, alongside support from RunCzech.
- Sisay Lemma (61:09)
- Chimdessa Debele (61:27)
- Vincent Nyageo (61:44)
- Zewditu Gelaw (68:28)
- Sultan Haydar (69:09)
- Vivian Kosgei (70:10)
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