The first words from all the finishers in the 27th SuisseGas Belgrade Marathon – which culminated in Kenyan victories for Benard Kipkorir Talam and Valary Jemeli Aiyabei – were “What a wind!” Kipkorir Talam broke away from colleague, Paul Kimeli Samoei after the 32km mark and fought the strong headwind to reach the finish line with a new personal best, 2.14.35.
“I managed to finish the first half of the course without any problems,” said Kipkorir immediately after the victory, “but then the strong headwind combined with an uphill stretch at the very finish and strong sun made it very difficult for me. I am very happy that I won, especially as I was not one of the favourites – the two Edwin’s were – Kangogo and Kitum – but I have also managed to set my new personal best”.
Paul Kimeli Samoei was second with 2.15.49, while last year’s winner Edwin Kiplagat Kitum placed third with 2.21.51. Edwin Kangogo Kimaiyo, who had announced his intention to break the course record, failed to finish the race.
The women’s race, similarly produced a surprise. Ethiopia’s Ayano Yenealem Buli was the pre-race favouritet, with her personal best 2.34.11. She vied for the lead with Kenya’s Valary Jemeli Aiyabei until the 26km mark, when she began to suffer from the heat, and dropped back to eventually finish third. Valary Jemeli Aiyabei won with 2.37.08, while second place went to colleague, Hellen Jepkosgei Kimutai, with 2.42.24. Ayano’s time for third was 2.43.45. “I’m satisfied with the race, although it was very difficult,” said Jemeli. “The wind was such a hindrance”.
The Balkan Marathon Championships was held concurrently,and the winners were Vitalie Gheorgita (Moldova) with 2.31.22 and Serbia’s Ana Subotic with 2.44.03.?In the half marathon, which also served as the Serbian Championships, Darko Zivanovic won the men’s race in 1.08.59, while Olivera Jevtic took the women’s title in 1.19.20. She may not be in the same form which earned here the course record here a half dozen years ago, but the wind strength may be judged from the fact that Jevtic has run the course in 1.11.41. There were close to 25,000 competitors in the three events, marathon, half-marathon, and 5k fun-run.