Eddah Jepkosgei and Julius Kiplagat Korir extended Kenya’s dominance of the Edinburgh Marathon on Sunday (28) by claiming comprehensive victories at the IAAF Bronze Label road race.
Kiplagat Korir emerged as the strongest among a four-strong group of his compatriots who seized control in Scotland’s capital after barely one-quarter distance.
For a long while, the current course record of 2:15:26 looked under threat but past half-way, the pace rapidly slowed.
With pre-race favourite Joel Kositany first to succumb to the windy conditions, past runner-up Japhet Koech was next to fall off the front as the race headed towards its conclusion, leaving only Stanley Kiprotich Bett left to put Kiplagat Korir under pressure.
But with four miles remaining, a decisive break came and there was no response with the 35-year-old crossing the line in 2:17:13, one minute and 56 seconds ahead of Kiprotich Bett with Koech returning to the podium in third.
“My plan was always to win the race,” Kiplagat Korir confirmed. “But I didn’t expect everyone to be so strong, especially in the opening part. The speed was pretty fast for the first 10 kilometres, moving out of the city.
“Then I had to use a lot of energy to keep going at that rate before I eventually pulled away. Once we went into the wind, we were talking about staying together to help get through it as a group.
“It was hard course with a lot of turns and long climbs. But the biggest challenge was the wind off the sea. That was not easy.”
Jepkosgei was exhausted by the finish but she looked ultra-comfortable in repeating her victory of 12 months earlier in Edinburgh in a time of 2:37:46.
Well clear from early on, the Kenyan slashed two minutes off her 2016 mark to end up with a huge margin over Belarusian Olympian Olga Dubovskaya who was making her return to the marathon following pregnancy.
“It was a very tough race with the wind en route,” Jepkosgei said. “And the second half was much more difficult. The first part I was able to feel comfortable but when we reached the coast, I was struggling to keep up at the same pace.
“But I managed it and it is nice to win again, especially with a time that is two minutes less than in 2016. I’d like to come back next year and do that again.”
In third place was the sole domestic runner to make the podium in Dianne Lauder who saved her best to last to clock 2:54:48 with last year’s runner-up Hayley Haining withdrawing mid-race due to fatigue.
“I’m pleased with the result but not the time,” the Scot said. “I had to take a few stops and my head probably was in the right place. So to come in the top three is OK in those circumstances. I felt better towards the end and started picking people off and that got me through.”
Italy’s Pasquale Roberto Rutigliano won the adjoining Edinburgh Half Marathon in 1:09:39 ahead of Patryk Gierjatowicz and Arron Larkin while Scottish veteran Avril Mason landed the women’s title in 1:19:49 by a mere eight seconds from Molly Browne.