Kenya’s Hillary Kiptum Maiyo successfully defended his title at the Minsk Half Marathon, winning the IAAF Bronze Label road race by more than a minute in the Belarusian capital on Sunday (10).
He finished in 1:03:19, just 19 seconds shy of the course record he set last year. Meanwhile, Lyudmyla Liakhovich ensured the women’s title stayed in Belarus, winning in 1:13:53 to lead a domestic 1-2-3.
Maiyo was joined in the early stages by Ukraine’s Mykola Lukhimchyk and Ethiopian duo Jima Bekele and Alem Bereket as the quartet passed through five kilometres in 14:11, sub-60-minute pace.
The pace settled down, though, and Maiyo and Bekele managed to open a gap of 16 seconds on Lukhimchyk by the time they reached the half-way point in 31:49. They continued to pull away from the Ukrainian throughout the second half and were still level at the 15-kilometre point, reached in 45:02.
But prolific half-marathon racer Maiyo proved to have the stronger finish and he went on to open up a 64-second gap on Bekele over the closing stages, winning in 1:03:19. Bekele finished second in 1:04:23 with Lukhimchyk taking third in 1:06:13.
Like Maiyo, Liakhovich similarly bided her time before making her move.
The 2012 European 5000m silver medallist, who formerly represented Ukraine under her maiden name of Kovalenko, was part of an eight-woman pack during the early stages along with compatriots Maryna Damantsevich, Nina Savina and Nastassia Ivanova, as well as Ethiopia’s Adawork Sadura, Christine Oigo of Kenya, Latvia’s Ilona Marhele and Uzbekistan’s Sitora Khamidova.
Their five-kilometre split of 16:49 suggested a finishing time comfortably inside the course record of 1:11:44, but they were unable to maintain the required pace.
Olympians Marhele and Ivanova were the first to detach from the lead group as the remaining leaders got to the half-way point in 37:04. The Belarusian trio of Liakhovich, Savina and Damantsevich – the 2014 Minsk Half Marathon winner – had broken away from the rest of the field by 15 kilometres, reached in 52:24.
But Liakhovich shook off the challenge of her compatriots in the closing stages to win in 1:13:53. Savina finished second in 1:14:44 with Damantsevich a further eight seconds in arrears.