Mateiko and Gebreselama win in Ras Al Khaimah

Daniel Mateiko and Tsigie Gebreselama were victorious at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, a World Athletics Gold Label road race, on Saturday (24).

Making his third appearance in Ras Al Khaimah, Mateiko lit up a foggy morning to storm home in a world-leading time of 58:45 and win by five seconds from his compatriot John Korir, while Isaia Lasoi completed a Kenyan top three, clocking 58:55.

In the women’s race, Ethiopia’s world cross country silver medallist Gebreselama improved her personal best by more than half a minute to win in 1:05:14, 30 seconds ahead of her compatriot Ababel Yeshaneh, the 2020 Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon champion and former world record-holder. Tanzania’s Jackline Sakilu was a surprise third, beating her personal best by more than three minutes with a national record of 1:06:05.

This year’s race was held exclusively for the first time on the fast and flat roads of Al Marjan Island and the elites took it in their stride, despite unusual weather conditions which saw visibility limited to around 50m at the finish line.

Mateiko was always to the fore and he made his winning move in the final kilometre, leaving Korir and Lasoi to chase him to the finish line.

A delighted Mateiko was relieved to finally get a win in Ras Al Khaimah after finishing sixth on his debut in 2022 and runner-up to Benard Koech last year. 

“I was the fastest man in the field and I promised myself I’d win here after finishing sixth and then second last year,” said the charismatic 25-year-old, who dedicated his win to Kelvin Kiptum, the marathon world record-holder who died in a road traffic accident earlier this month.

“The conditions were very difficult – it was windy, humid and a little foggy – so this is definitely the best win of my career so far.”

While Mateiko saw off a world-class field that included defending champion Koech, who finished fifth (59:42), and New York Marathon champion Tamirat Tola, who took seventh (59:46), in the women’s event the hugely talented Gebreselama underlined why she is considered one of her country’s finest prospects.

After passing 15km in 46:42, Gebreselama and Yeshaneh broke away from the lead women’s group before Gebreselama forged ahead for victory.

“I am so happy to have run a personal best today,” said the 23-year-old, who finished fourth in the half marathon at the World Road Running Championships in Riga in October.

“I was very worried about Peres (Jepchirchir) in this race so I was surprised when she dropped back. It’s a great win for me and, while it’s too early in my career to think about the Paris Olympics, my aim is to break the half marathon world record.”

Olympic marathon champion Jepchirchir, one of the pre-race favourites and a three-time half marathon world champion, suffered a setback early on in the race when a shoe slipped off, costing her at least 20 seconds. 

posted Saturday February 24th
by World Athletics