Saturday, April 2, 2011

Prague Half-Marathon: Philemon Limo, 59:30!

The holy grail for Half Marathon race directors is to have a sub-60 minutes race. And one of the latest recruits to world class athletics, Philemon Limo of Kenya obliged in the Hervis Prague Half-Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Saturday (2).

Limo, 25, has only been running seriously for two years, and racing at world class for 12 months. But he ran away from three men who have already gone sub-60. He beat Azmeraw Bekele of Ethiopia and his compatriot, Titus Masai by over a minute, clocking a superlative 59:30, and taking 37 seconds off the two-year-old course record, to become the third fastest man of the year at the distance.

His colleague Lydia Cheromei, who in contrast was winning world titles at the age of 13, more than emulated Limo. Her 1:07:33 took exactly a minute and half from the former record, and is the second fastest time in 2011.

Following his own sub-60 - a 59:39 clocking in Holland three weeks ago - Azmeraw was a marginal race favourite, and he set out to justify that claim. The Ethiopian was in the van behind pacemaker Edward Muge in the early stages of the race, along with Masai and another Kenyan, Jairus Chanchima. But Limo was lurking in the background, and stayed with the favourites when a group of five broke away after just five kilometres.