Ethiopian Yekeber Bayabel won today’s 44th Saucony Egmond Half Marathon. He had the finishing stretch along Boulevard Noord to himself and completed the race in 1:08:08. High southerly winds made it the slowest race since 1985. On track for a medal for much of the race, Abdi Nageeye developed a side stitch in the last few kilometres and had to concede to Bernard Kipyego and Abera Kuma, who finished second and third. The women’s race was won by Ethiopian Genet Yalew (1:19:02).
Almost from the start, the runners led onto the beach to do battle with the wind as they headed for Castricum aan Zee. Some eighty athletes formed a tight lead pack. “It was more like a warm-up pace,” said Abdi Nageeye after the event. “Our initial per-kilometre pace was around 4:30 minutes, so I even had time for a pee break. There was no point running any faster with such high winds.”
The race began in earnest when the runners entered the dune area near Castricum. A long line of runners stretched out along the sandy paths in what gradually became a drop-out race. The greatest differences were achieved on Van Oldenborghweg in Egmond-Binnen. Bayabel stepped up the pace and broke away from his opponents. Nageeye held his own well among some of the world's top runners and looked set to finish ahead of Kuma for much of the race. But after Bloedweg he was up against it. “I developed a side stitch in my upper ribs. It was so bad that I collapsed. I’m bitterly disappointed. I was convinced I would place on the podium,” said the marathon runner. Nageeye had to sprint to secure fourth place, a second ahead of Emmanuel Mutai, whose best marathon time is 2:03:13. Bernard Kipyego, two-time winner of the TCS Amsterdam Marathon, crossed the finish line second with a time of 1:08:33 and Abera Kuma, who won the event in 2013, posted a time of 1:08:40. Nageeye ran the 21.1 kilometres in 1:09:02. Khalid Choukoud was second among the Dutch runners, placing sixth in 1:09:24. Ronald Schröer followed as ninth (1:10:16) ahead of Michel Butter (1:10.48).
Having set off 9:17 minutes before the men, the women were overtaken after just 17 kilometres, so the outcome of the man-woman race was decided early on. The women also stayed close together on the beach. Ethiopians Dibabe Kuma and Genet Yalew led the race from the beach onwards. Genet Yalew eventually proved to have the strongest legs and took the victory with a time of 1:19:02. Kuma placed second (1:19:31) and Jackline Chepngeno (1:20:34) completed an all-Ethiopian podium. Ruth van der Meijden was the fastest of the female Dutch runners finishing sixth in 1:23:12.
A total of 17,000 runners braved the stormy weather to compete in today’s event. It was really tough going on the beach. But that is simply the nature of the Saucony Egmond Half Marathon. Le Champion looks back on this memorable edition of the event with a deep sense of satisfaction.
The next edition of the Saucony Egmond Half Marathon will be held on Sunday 8 January 2017. Registration opens in August.
Full results can be found at SauconyEgmondHalveMarathon.nl.