Olympic marathon bronze medallist Galen Rupp won the 44th edition of the Huawei Roma Ostia Half Marathon on Sunday (11), clocking a personal best of 59:47 at this IAAF Gold Label road race.
Rupp ran a commanding race to beat Kenyan Moses Kemei by 57 seconds. Justus Kangogo, who finished runner-up in last year’s edition in his personal best of 59:31, reached the podium for the second consecutive year in 1:01:02. Another Kenyan, Emmanuel Kipsang, completed the top-four crossing the finish line in 1:01:33.
Ethiopian Haftamenesh Haylu Tesfay took the honours in the women’s race in 1:09:02 beating her compatriot Dera Dida by 19 seconds. Kenyan Rebecca Chesir took third in 1:11:04 improving on her fourth place in last year’s edition.
The top-five group formed by Kipsang, Kangogo and Kemei from Kenya, Hurisa Desalegn Derara from Ethiopia and Rupp set off at a very fast 13:50 for the first five kilometres, which indicated a possible final time under the 59-minute barrier.
Kangogo led at halfway closely followed by Kemei, Kipsang and Rupp on an uphill section of the course. They reached the halfway mark in 28:09.
At 14 kilometres, Kemei and Rupp broke away from Kangogo by five seconds and reached the 15 kilometres in 42:44. A kilometre later, Rupp had built an eight second lead on Kemei.
Upping the pace, Rupp reaching 18 kilometres in 51:09 and extended his lead over Kemei by 40 seconds with one kilometre to go.
The 31-year-old US long distance star smashed his previous career best time of 1.00:30 set at the New York Half Marathon in 2011 and narrowly missed Ryan Hall’s national record of 59:43.
Rupp became the first non-African winner in the men’s race since 2004 Olympic marathon champion Stefano Baldini took the honours in 1997.
“It was an amazing race,” Rupp said. “It went according to plans without wind and rain along the course. I knew I was in good shape.”
Rupp used today’s race as part of his preparation for next month’s Boston Marathon where he will be bidding to improve on his second place achieved last year.
“Last year I ran a half-marathon in 1:02 and then I went on to win in Chicago. For this reason I am happy as today’s race shows that I am in good shape.”
Rupp also plans to defend his Chicago Marathon title in October.
Chesir, Dida and Haylu took the lead in the early stages of the women’s race going through five kilometres in 16:04 and 10 in 32.37 with a gap of 47 seconds over Ethiopia’s Amane Shankule Beriso.
Haylu and Dida broke away from Chesir after the halfway mark, building a nine second gap by the 15th kilometre mark in 49:27. Haylu increased her lead over Dida by over 15 seconds in the final five kilometres before crossing the finish line in 1:09:02. Last January the Ethiopian runner finished fifth at the Dubai Marathon in her personal best of 2:20:13.
Italian top runner Rosalba Console was the top European finisher clocking 1:13:45 in sixth.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
1 Galen Rupp (USA) 59:47
2 Moses Kemei (Kenya) 1:00:44
3 Justus Kangogo (Kenya) 1:01:02
4 Emmanuel Kipsang (Kenya) 1:01:33
5 Felicien Muhitira (Rwanda) 1:02:05
1 Haftamenesh Tesfay Haylu (Ethiopia) 1:09:02
2 Dera Dida (Ethiopia) 1:09:21
3 Rebecca Chesir (Kenya) 1:11:04
4 Amane Shankule Beriso (Ethiopia) 1:12:08
5 Jelela Koren Yal (Ethiopia) 1:13:30