- - Alemu Bekele crossed the finish line in 2:06:04, beating the previous record for the circuit (set in 2010) by more than a minute. - - The Ethiopian Kuftu Tahir also clocked the best time in the women’s category at 2:24:44 - - There have never been so many people cheering on the runners on the streets or in Expo Sports, the biggest sports fair in Spain, with more than 80,000 visitors over the weekend
Barcelona, 10/03/2019. A historic morning in the Zurich Marató Barcelona thanks to two circuit records broken in the men’s and women’s categories. The changes to the circuit have benefited the race greatly and Alemu Bekele smashed the previous record set nine years ago. The athlete from Bahrain stopped the clock with a spectacular time of 2:06:04, beating the 2:07:30 set by Jason Kotut in 2010 by almost a minute and a half. The fiesta was rounded off by Kuftu Tahir beating the women’s record with a time of 2:24:44.
Barcelona woke up to a temperature of 10 degrees Celsius, ideal for the 17,465 runners – 2% up on 2017 – to take the start for the 42 kilometres through the streets of Barcelona, whose inhabitants crowded the streets to cheer them on. There has never been such a good atmosphere along the route, showing that Barcelona loves its marathon. This was particularly felt over the weekend, with more than 80,000 people passing through Expo Sports, a figure never reached before that consolidates it as the biggest sports fair in Spain.
The race was run at a faster pace than was expected in the technical meeting. From the start, the leading runners passed through the 5, 10 and 15 split times knocking seconds off the clock. Nine athletes reached km 30 under 90 minutes, with more than a minute’s advantage to beat the circuit record. By then, the pacemakers had done their job and Anthony Maritim (the winner in 2018) and Laban Mutai had the task of maintaining the pace. The first victim was Laban Korir, the favourite to win the race. At kilometre 35 six runners headed the race: Maritim, Getachew, Negewo, Kacheran, Mutai and Bekele continued at record pace. Bekele delivered the final blow and set off on his own towards victory, finishing in a time of 2:06:04, the seventh fastest of the year. Abebe Negewo came in second with 2:06:49 ahead of last year’s winner, Anthony Maritim (2:06:54) and Philemon Kacheran (2:07:12), all four athletes below the previous record. Miguel Ferrer from Logroño was the first European runner to finish with a personal best of 2:23:33.
As for the women’s race, the end was quite similar: a new record for the circuit with a time of 2:24:44, beating the Ethiopian athlete Helen Bekele’s time by 20 seconds. The big favourite, Jackline Chepngeno, who ran 2:24 on her marathon debut in Amsterdam, hung on in front until kilometre 25, which is when Kemuna, Abebayehu, Fayesa, Tahir, Chepkoech, Cherono and Teshome broke away in search of victory. After kilometre 35 Tahir Kuftu (Ethiopia) took control and extended her advantage to cross the finish line on her own. The Kenyan Josephine Chepkoech came in second and Joy Keruma from Kazakhstan was third.
Alemu Bekele: “I am very happy with the time I have recorded. I knocked more than 5 minutes off my personal best for the distance, and setting the record for the Barcelona circuit has been great. Barcelona is a very welcoming and pleasant city, with a fantastic race route that is very fast, and the weather conditions today have been ideal to achieve this time. The key to the win was after kilometre 40, when I stepped up the pace to leave my fellow runners behind and thus end up on top of the podium. This win will help me to take on the World Marathon Championship in Doha with more confidence.”
Kuftu Tahir: “I have finally been able to show my worth with this time. My best approved time was 2:31 in Amsterdam, but I knew it was not real and that I could run 2:24. I love the circuit and the atmosphere, Barcelona is a great city and the people encourage you all the way. I hope to return next year to lower my time even more”.
Juan Porcar, CEO of RPM-MKTG: “We are absolutely delighted because all the objectives we set ourselves for this edition have been fulfilled. In sporting terms, the two records for the race – the men’s and the women’s – have been beaten, which shows that the changes to the circuit and the decisions made by race director Cristian Llorens have been a great success. Furthermore, the number of spectators in the streets cheering on the runners and visitors to Expo Sports, the biggest sports fair in Spain with over 80,000 visitors, have increased considerably. Barcelona now has a 2:06 circuit and we will continue working to be one of the world references for the distance”.