The pair of Ethiopians 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 Ankara Half-Marathon, a landmark race for organisers in Turkey.
Ankara, until today, had been the only capital city in the world without a road race event despite a population of over six million.
Set around the city centre in the city in glorious conditions, the first ever international half-marathon in the Turkish capital had 4000 entries, including a eye-catching elite line-up.
Lemma, who is 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.
In the men’s event, Victor Mutai and Julius Kipchumba set the early pace as the leaders went through 10km in 29:27 on a hilly and undulated course. Around the 12km mark, gaps began to appear with five of the six front-runners breaking free.
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 about 3km to go, broke away. The Ethiopian won by 18 seconds to compatriot Chimdessa Debele while Vincent Nyageo 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 in second and Kenyan Vivian Kosgei, 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 the support from RunCzech.
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