Nearly six thousand runners gathered at the starting line of the sunny ONICO Gdynia Half Marathon on March 18th. Ben Chelimo Somikwo (UGA) and Christine Moraa Oigo (KEN) prevailed in the tough, windy conditions at the Baltic Sea coast. So far undefeated in Gdynia, Hilary Kiptum Maiyo Kimaiyo (KEN) finished fifth.
- Conditions were really difficult today. Despite the sunny weather, strong wind made it hard to push stronger – said Marcin Chabowski, who finished as the best Pole on the 6th place.
Chabowski, 2005 European U20 steeplechase champion and the best Polish half marathon runner in the recent years, kept himself in the leading group for 12 km. After that, a group of five led by El Hassan Oubaddi (ESP) took the lead, crossing 15 km mark in 45:36 and shortly after that Chabowski was running alone on the sixth place with no one, beside the strong wind, at his side.
So far undefeated Hilary Kiptum Maiyo Kimaiyo decided to take the lead after 16 km, having tried to hide from the wind behind his rivals in the first part of the race. However, 1km-long climb on the Swietojanska street showed clearly that another victory in Gdynia was not meant for him.
Kimaiyo began to lose distance and was not able to keep the pace of the newly formed leading group of three elite runners – Oubaddi, Somikwo and Mumo (KEN). It was Oubaddi and Somikwo who saved the most energy for the final 2 km with the latter being able to make the last effort to take the victory in 1:03:32. Oubaddi finished just a second behind with Mumo taking the last podium spot in 1:03:53. Fourth place for Zelalem Mengistu (ETH) who topped the two-time winner Maiyo Kimaiyo.
Third time lucky - that's the shortest summary of the female competition, won by Christine Moraa Oigo (1:13:54), who finished second in Gdynia back in 2016 and 2017. Although the runner-up, Ruth Matebo (KEN) lost by just four seconds, it was actually a „one woman show” as Oiga was already 8 seconds ahead on the 5th km and able to increase her lead up to 17 seconds after 15 km. Merine Gezahegn (ETH) took the 3rd place in 1:14:07.
The fastest Polish female athlete, Agnieszka Gortel, finished fifth, behind Viktoriya Khapilina of Ukraine.
I would like to thank all the fans on the streets of Gdynia for their continuous support. Conditions were tough today but the fans and sun helped us give our best on the course – said Gortel, who wanted to avenge her last year's disappointing appearance at the ONICO Gdynia Half Marathon.
A total of 5915 individual runners took part in the half marathon race, with female athletes accounting for nearly 30% of the crowd.
ONICO Gdynia Half Marathon is an IAAF Road Race Bronze Label event, also recognized with the European Athletics' Five Star Quality certificate. In two years – 29 March 2020 - Gdynia will host the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships.
For more information, please visit www.gdyniapolmaraton.pl
Full results: http://wyniki.datasport.pl/results2439/