Running in sunny and warm conditions, Aniko Kalovics from Hungary and Joseph Lomala from Kenya took the honours at the 23rd edition of the Venice Marathon.

Former European cross country bronze medallist Kalovics, who ran her fifth Marathon, overcame some problems after 20 km to catch up to Anne Kosgei at 39 km. The Hungarian dropped Kosgei and took the win in 2:31:24. Kosgei finished second for the third time in her career in the popular Venice race after placing runner-up in 2002 and 2007. Kosgei, who ran her PB of 2:28:27 in 2007, clocked 2:32.21. Third was Kenyan Florence Chepkurui in 2:35:09.

Lomala, third in this year’s Turin Marathon, won a very close battle against Jacob Chesire from Kenya by just one second in 2:11:06 to 2:11:07. Abdi Kidane Gemechu from Ethiopia finished third in 2:11:57.

Women’s race –

In the first part of the women’s race Kalovics took the lead with Kosgei. Both runners passed 15 km in 52:36. Kosgei was in the lead passing halfway in 1:14:15, one second faster than Kalovics.

The Hungarian star felt tired and was dropped by Kosgei by 17 seconds at the 30 km mark (1:46:10 to 1:46:27). Kalovics closed the gap and managed to catch up with the fading Kosgei who was overhauled at 39 km. The Kenyan could not respond to Kalovics who went on to take the fourth marathon victory of her career in five races in 2:31:24, after victories in Carpi 2006 and 2007, Turin 2007 and a third place in 2008.

“I decided to slow down in the second half of the race because I was tired, said Kalovics. “When I saw that Kosgei was not too far I found the strength to recover and beat her.”

Men’s race –

12 men made up the leading group who passed the 15 km in 45:52. It included Kenyan pacemaker Elisha Tarus Meli, Jacob Chesire, 2:08:11 runner Wodajo Kure Teferi, Gilbert Kibiwott Rotich, Abdi Kidane Gemechu, 2004 Venice Marathon winner Raymond Kipkoech, former Stramilano Half-Marathon winner Paul Kimaiyo Kimugul, Joseph Lomala, Daniel Limo and Nickodemus Biwott. They continued to keep a sub-2:10 pace but after reaching the halfway mark in 1:04:59, they slowed down the rhythm.

Chesire and Rotich went to the front at 30 km in a five-men group which was also made up of Kimugul, Gemechu and Lomala. They passed the 30 km in 1:32:35.

Chesire tried to launch a first attack at 35 km on the challenging Ponte della Libertà (Freedom Bridge) which links Mestre to Venice where the battle for the final win traditionally reaches its climax.

At 38 km with the fabled city as the backdrop, the race for victory was between Lomala and Chesire who engaged an emotional neck-and-neck battle across the bridges which make Venice so famous around the world. With 4 km to go Lomala managed to catch up with Chesire, who made his debut in the marathon in Venice. Chesire tried to launch two attacks but Lomala managed to respond to both.

The race remained wide open until the end. Just a few metres before the finish line Lomala held off Chesire to take a very narrow win by one second in 2:11:06.

Lomala was born in Nandi and trains in Iten under the guidance of Italian coach Gabriele Nicola. He finished third in the Turin Marathon with his PB 2:10:22. He trains with runner-up Chesire, who is the brother of last year’s Venice Marathon winner Lenah Cheruiyot who set the women’s course race record of 2:27:02 in 2007.

“I am very happy because I have trained for this race for five months,” said Lomala. “I suffered from some problems after finishing second in 1:02:58 at the Turin Half-Marathon.”

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF

Leading Results:

Men –
1. Joseph Kimosop Lomala (Kenya) 2:11:06
2. Jacob Chesire (Kenya) 2:11:07
3. Kidane Gemechu Abdi (Ethiopia) 2:11:57
4. Wodajo Kure Teferi (Ethiopia) 2:14:21
5. Paul Kimayo Kimugul (Kenya) 2:14:51
6. William Biama (Kenya) 2:15:55
7. Nickodemus Biwott (Kenya) 2:16:27
8. Federico Simionato (Italy) 2:18:05

Women -
1. Aniko Kalovics (Hungary) 2:31:24
2. Anne Kosgei (Kenya) 2:32:21
3. Florence Chepkurui (Kenya) 2:35:09