Strong Winds Help, Hamper Elite
BY DAVID BLOCK
PHILADELPHIA, PA--Two hours before the 2017 Philadelphia Marathon began (November 19) the rain sounded like a torrential downpour. The winds were also blowing hard enough for the race director, Jam Marino, to order that all race clocks on the course be removed.
By the time the race started 7 a.m., the rain stopped, but the winds were too hard for anyone to even consider putting the clocks back on the course.
Not seeing mile splits had no effect on the overall winner, Boniface Kongin who posted 2:16:24.87. "I just used my watch," said Kongin.
While some runners complained about the winds, Kongin welcomed them, particularly at 20 miles when he took the lead.
"The tailwind (at 20 miles) was hitting my butt," said Kongin. That helped him pull ahead of Nelson Oyugi, who finished second, 2:18:07.80.
For the first 20 miles, Oyugi and Kongin ran together.
"By 21 miles, I knew I wasn't going to win, so I focused on second place," said Oyugi.
Kongin collected $10,000.00, while Oyugi earned $5,000.00. Kongin and Oyugi train together in New Mexico. Their goal was to run together and push the pace.
The first woman finisher, Sarah Kiptoo, clocked 2:38:13.45 to collect the lion's share, $10,000, while runner-up Hellen Jemutai, 2:40:10.53, received $5,000.
"I didn't expect to win," said Kiptoo, who had never before been to Philadelphia. "The challenge was the wind. It bothered me from the start."
"I saw they were tired," said Kiptoo. At that point, she was confident about winning.
The first Philadelphia male finisher was Patrick Richie, who placed 11th overall, with a 2:27:32.71 clocking. He collected $1,000.00. This was his second straight year as the first Philadelphian to finish the marathon. "These are the only two marathons that I ever ran," said Richie.
The first female Philadelphia finisher was Beth Blendell, 3:01:04.75. She was the 20th woman to finish. Before running the Philadelphia Marathon, her previous marathon PR was 3 hours and 13 minutes. Blendell attributed her improved time to the change in her tempo workout. Before, her tempo runs were 15 to 17 miles long. "Now it's 20 miles," said Blendell, "and I do a lot of tempo at the end."
On the day before the marathon, November 18, Panuel Mkungo, set a new Philadelphia Half Marathon course record, 1:02:20.89. Valentine Orare set the previous course record of 1:02:29 in 2006.
Mkungo collected the winner's share, $2,500 along with a thousand-dollar
bonus for setting a new course record.
"I was confident I was going to win after 12 miles," said Mkungo. "I pushed."
The first woman to finish the half-marathon was Emily Setlack of Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada who posted a 1:13:59.89 clocking. Runner-up was Sophy Jepchirchir, 1:14:59.01.
"I heard a lot of good things about this race," said Setlack.
Setlack had no idea who her female competitors were. "That's what I love, when you have no idea whom you're competing against so you just go out and run as hard as you can do," Setlack said.
The Rothman Institute 8K also took place on November 18. Finishing first in the men's field was Awet Habte Ghebrezghiabher 23:19.62, and the first woman finisher was Gotytom Gebreslase, 25:07:57. They both collected the lion's share, $1,000.00.
Philadelphia Mayor, Jim Kenney, kicked off Marathon weekend,
by wishing all the competitors the best of luck.
"We keep expanding our reach," said Kenney.
Additional Notes from Clay Shaw
Ethipian runner Awet Habte Ghebrezghiabher (23:20), and Gotytom Gebreslase (25:09) were the winners of the very competitive Rothman 8K. Gebreslase set a new women's course record while winning a battle with second place Monicah Ngige (25:18) of Kenya.
The Rothman 8K was very competitive with strong regional elite competition. Sixteen men broke 25 minutes, and 12 women broke 30 minutes. Among those was Masters star Christy Peterson of North Wales, PA who ran 29:29 to win among a strong Masters field.
Of note my good friend from England, Simon Newton, ran 28:23 in the 8K, and 2:45:16 in the marathon the following day to win the Independence Challenge,
TOP 15 MEN
1 2:16:25 Boniface Kongin
TOP 15 WOMEN
1 2:38:14 Sarah Kiptoo
Notes: Richie 11th man, and Beth Blendell (20thF, 3:01:18) were top PHILA marathoners.
TOP 10 MEN
1 Panuel Mkungo
TOP 10 WOMEN
1 Emily Setlack
TOP 15 MEN
1 23:20 Awet Habte Ghebrezghiabher ERIT
TOP 15 WOMEN
1 25:09 Gotytom Gebreslase