Nairobi — Despite a 23km/h headwind between the 10th and 26th kilometres, Kenya's Ruth Chepngetich shattered the Turkish all-comers' record at the Vodafone Istanbul Marathon, winning the IAAF Gold Label road race in 2:22:36.
Seven months after her surprise 1:06:19 course record victory at the Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon, Chepngetich sliced nearly five minutes off the long-standing race record of 2:27:27, set by Ethiopia's Ashu Kasim Roba in 2010.
The 23-year old, who ran shoulder to shoulder with her compatriot Visiline Jepkesho for 40 kilometres, crossed the finish line four seconds ahead the pre-race favourite.
A group of six athletes - including Ethiopian trio Letebrhan Haylay, Mulu Seboka, Sinke Dessie and Kenya's Sharon Jemutai Cherop - led the field from the gun, passing 10 kilometres in 34:53.
Having to battle strong winds thereafter, Chepngetich, Jepkesho and Haylay proved to be the strongest athletes and had built up a 300-metre lead over their rivals by 15km, which they reached in 52:09.
The trio passed half way in 1:11:53, suggesting a course record was highly likely, and were still together up to the 27th kilometre until Haylay started to lose ground.
It then became a race between the two Kenyans and, surprisingly, it was the inexperienced Chepngetich who coped better with the difficult uphill section towards the finish line.
Chepngetich won in 2:22:36, the third-fastest debut ever by a Kenyan woman, while Olympian Jepkesho finished second in 2:22:40, the second-fastest time of her career after the 2:21:37 PB she set in Paris earlier this year.
Chepngetich pocketed a total of Sh9.2mn (US$90,000) for her effort while Jepkesho took home a prize purse of Sh 6.7mn (US$65,000).
Haylay placed third in 2:25:14, just 13 seconds shy of her career best.
-Kenyan-born Kiprotich of French wins men's race-
The men's race was similarly close as just five seconds separated the top two finishers.
A slow initial pace kept 14 athletes together through the halfway mark, reached in 1:05:47.
The group had been whittled down to nine by 35 kilometres, and splits of 2:45 and 2:43 for the 37th and 39th kilometres respectively caused more runners to fall off the lead pack, eventually leaving Kenyan born Franch Abraham Kiprotich and Kenya's Jacob Kendagor ahead of the rest by 40 kilometres.
Kiprotich went on to win in 2:11:22 as Kendagor placed second in 2:11:27. Ethiopia's Bazu Worku took third place in 2:11:39.
1 Abraham Kiprotich (FRA) 2:11:22
2 Jacob Kendagor (KEN) 2:11:27
3 Bazu Worku (ETH) 2:11:39
4 Kenneth Mburu Mungara (KEN) 2:12:01
5 Douglas Chebii (KEN) 2:12:32
6 Ezekiel Kemboi Omullo (KEN) 2:12:44
1 Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) 2:22:36
2 Visiline Jepkesho (KEN) 2:22:40
3 Letebrhan Haylay (ETH) 2:25:14
4 Mulu Seboka (ETH) 2:29:55
5 Sinke Dessie (ETH) 2:34:24
6 Sharon Jemutai Cherop (KEN) 2:39:34