Ethiopians Set New Course Records at Philly Marathon

By David Block

PHILADELPHIA, PA—Boniface Kongin thought he was going to win the Philadelphia Marathon, held November 18, 2018 for a second year in a row, and it seemed as if it were going to happen. At the 10K mark, Kongin broke away from the pack and no elite runners challenged him—at least not until after he hit 25 miles when he began to stop and start repeatedly.

Prior to Mile 25, not one runner caught up to him.

At Mile 13, his split was 1:03:57.  At the 18-mile mark at the East Falls Bridge, his split was 1:27:50. At 30K, his split was 1:31:05. His nearest competitor Tadesse Yae Dabi hit 30K at 1:34:31. But after he posted 1:54:12 on Kelly Drive, Kongin did the unimaginable. He often stopped. He would look behind to see if anyone was near him and then he would resume running, but at a slower pace.

After 25 miles, he stopped and started one time too many because Dabi passed him along with the lead pack.

Kongin finished 8th, 2:20:26.

Dabi won with a 2:14:47 clocking to set a new course record. He collected $10,000 for winning and an additional course record bonus of $1,500.00 giving him a total of $11,500.00.

“I did not expect to win,” said Dabi. “I saw that he (Kongin) was tired so I passed him. I was feeling good.”

Finishing second was Birhanu Dare Kemel (2:14:54) to collect $5,000.00.

No one challenged Kemel for his second-place spot. Diriba Yigezu finished third, 2:17:09 to receive $2,500.00.

The first woman, Serkalem Abrha of Ethiopia, also set a new course record, 2:32:52, to collect $11,500.00

Runner-up was Anna Weber, 2:40:11, who earned $5,000.00.

“My sister lived here for the last 20 years. I thought it would be fun to come out here,” said Weber of Indianapolis, Indiana. “My top goal was to be in the top three.  After 20 miles, I was hurting, so I took it a mile at a time and then a step at a time.”

Finishing third was Sarah Kiptoo of Kenya in 2:42:41

Editor’s notes on the marathon:  Tadesse Yae Dabi ran the New York City Marathon in 2:13:57 and placed 12th two weeks before Philly marathon.  Birhanu Dare Kemel and Diriba Yigezu also ran 2018 NYC.  Sarah Kiptoo was the 2017 Philly Marathon champion.

Anna Weber w MGonzalez SDever RNorcross-5482
Anna Weber runs with Manuel Gonzalez, Shaun Dever, and Robert Norcross at halfway
Serkalem Abrha ETH 1stF CR-6112
Serkalem Abrha ETH 1st woman and course record
Tadesse Yae ETH 1st CR-5871
Tadesse Yae ETH 1st man and course record

James Ngandu won the Philadelphia Half Marathon in 1:02:42 and received $2,500.00.  At the 10-mile mark at 33rd and Oxford, his split was 48:08.

“I felt I had some energy,” said Ngandu. “I wanted to push the pace a bit. I wasn’t expecting to win. I thought I would be number three.”

Finishing second was last year’s Philadelphia Half Marathon winner, Panuel Mkungo. This year he clocked 1:03:10 for $1,000.00.

The first woman to finish the half-marathon was Vicoty Chepngeno, 1:10:17.

James Ngandu and Panuel Mkungo lead half-4403
James Ngandu and Panuel Mkungo lead at halfway point.
James Ngandu KENYA wins half marathon-4526
James Ngandu KENYA wins half marathon men’s division

Brenda Flores of Mexico City won the Rothman Institute 8K, 26:35 and collected $1,000.00.

“This was my first time in Philadelphia,” said Flores. “It was too cold for me.”  After hitting four miles, Flores grabbed the lead.

The first male 8K winner was 18-year-old Charles Kamau, 23:14, a Kenyan citizen training in Boulder, CO.

Brenda Flores MEX wins Rothman 8K-5064
Brenda Flores MEX wins Rothman 8K
Diriba Yigezu 2 Charles Kamau 1 and John Raneri 3 in Rothman 8k-4955
Diriba Yigezu 2 Charles Kamau 1 and John Raneri 3 in Rothman 8k

One of the special guests attending this year’s Philadelphia Marathon was Desiree Linden, the first U.S. woman to win the Boston Marathon since 1985. (Linden’s finishing time at Boston was 2:39.54.)

“I wanted to be here to support everyone,” said Linden.”

(All photos by Clay Shaw)