From David Monti
© 2006 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved RaceResultsWeekly.com
By Bob Ramsak
Sammy Wanjiru reclaimed the world record in the half-marathon today, clocking 58:53 at the Ras Al Khaimah International Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates.
With an aggressive display of front-running, Wanjiru, only 20 years old, eclipsed the previous record of 58:55 set by Haile Gebrselassie at the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half-Marathon in Phoenix on Jan. 15, 2006. Wanjiru briefly held the world record after his 59:16 run in Rotterdam in September 2005 when still a junior athlete.
According to Pat Butcher, who reported from the race, the course was certified by AIMS for record purposes.
A strong field was recruited for the premiere running of the event in the small Emirate, and Wanjiru, the youngest among the elites, handled all opposition with relative ease, taking to the front from the outset. After an opening 27:47 10k split, the lead pack was reduced to four, with Wanjiru leading fellow Kenyans Patrick Makau and Francis Kibiwott and Deriba Merga of Ethiopia. Breifly headed at several stages, Wanjiru took command over the final two kilometers after Merga took the lead to try and slow the pace.
"I thought I could win from about 15k," Wanjiru said in a press release, "the others seemed to be tiring. I knew the Ethiopian was bluffing when he took the lead. I'm very happy to get my world record back after Haile broke it last year."
Makau was second in 59:13, the third fastest time in history, and Merga was third in 59:43. Robert Kipkoech Cheruyiot, winner of last year's Boston and Chicago Marathons, was fifth.
In the women's race, Berhane Adere lead an Ethiopian 1-4 sweep with her 1:10:58 performance, four seconds ahead of Yeyiba Erkesse.
The winners each received a check for $20,000, while Wanjiru was given another impromptu bonus of $5000.
Leading Results (unofficial):
1. Sammy Wanjiru, KEN 58:53
2. Patrick Makau, KEN 59:13
3. Deriba Merga, ETH 59:43
4. Francis Kibiwott, KEN 1:00:07
5. Robert Cheruyiot, KEN 1:00:37
6. John Yuda, TAN 1:00:38
7. Fabiano Joseph, TAN 1:00:53
8. Matthew Koech, KEN 1:01:02
9. Mubarak Shami, QAT 1:01:15
10. Solomon Busendich, KEN 1:01:36
1. Berhane Adere, ETH 1:10:58
2. Teybia Erkesso, ETH 1:11:02
3. Bizunesh Bekele, ETH 1:11:06
4. Dire Tune, ETH 1:11:10
5. Rita Jeptoo, KEN 1:11:18
6. Caroline Cheptanui, KEN 1:11:32
7. Everline Kimwei, KEN 1:11:37
8. Salina Kosgei, KEN 1:11:47
9. Asmae Leghzaoui, MAR 1:11:49
10. Hilalia Johannes, NAM 1:11:06
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