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MASTERS

At 43, Kipkemboi in prime of his life

By Susan Bickelhaupt, Globe Staff, 4/16/2002

   
 TOP FINISHERS

Men  |  Women  |  Wheelchairs  |

 COVERAGE

Women: Okayo KOs course in debut
Men: Rop puts Kenyans back on top
Runner-up: Ndereba is still first-rate
Ryan: Their absence didn't last long
US runners: Support not there
Beardsley: He returns for more fun
Masters: At 43, Kipkemboi in prime
Wheelchairs: VanDyk wins again
Notebook: Runners kept their cool
The start: Meeting first challenge
First-person: To end, the hard way
Heartbreak Hill: Over the top
SporTView: Coverage lagged
Faces in pack: Miles of smiles

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A couple of years made no difference to Joshua Kipkemboi. In fact, it might have spurred on the Kenyan runner yesterday.

Kipkemboi, 43, reclaimed the masters title that he won two years ago by finishing yesterday in 2:12:48, which was 12th best overall and two seconds off his personal best.

Firaya Sultanova, from Moscow, won the women's masters title with a record time of 2:27:58, good for fifth overall.

Kipkemboi won the masters division in 2000 in 2:17:11, but lost it last year when he finished a minute behind Russian runner Fedor Ryjov (2:13:54). Both runners stayed with the lead runners for most of the race as No. 501 (Ryjov) and No. 502 (Kipkemboi) mixed in with the front pack.

''I was confident that I could stay with [Ryjov],'' Kipkemboi said. ''I was leading the masters runners, but we were all in the same group. But he passed me at the very end last year so I knew I had to run a tactical race. So when I looked up and saw him coming, I thought, `Oh no, this is terrible.'''

In Newton, the Kenyan moved up and overtook last year's men's champion Lee Bong Ju as they made their way down Commonwealth Avenue. But the defending champ wasn't his concern as much as the defending masters champion was.

''Finally I made my move and left [Ryjov] behind,'' said Kipkemboi, who added that he was exhausted. ''It will take me a week to recover from today's race.''

Kipkemboi said his next marathon likely will be the Twin Cities Marathon in the fall, where he set his personal best in 2000 at 2:12:46.

In the women's race, Gitte Karlshoj of Denmark looked like she was going to win her third straight masters title. Karlshoj, 42, and Sultanova, 40, ran shoulder to shoulder for the first 5 miles. But Sultanova shook off her competitor by the time the pack reached Natick, about 9 miles into the race.

Sultanova finished more than seven minutes behind winner Margaret Okayo, but was just 32 seconds behind fourth-place finisher Sun Yingjie (2:27:26).

Sultanova, who won marathons in Clevland, Istanbul, and Calvia (Spain), is a three-time winner of the Great Scottish Half Marathon. The Russian ran here two years ago, so she was ready for the course's ups and downs.

''Of course, by knowing the race it does help a little, but that's not major thing,'' Sultanova said.

And even though she bettered the women's masters record by nearly three minutes (Priscilla Welch ran 2:30:48 in 1988), Sultanova said she had another goal in mind. ''Actually, I was planning to set a world record but unfortunately I couldn't,'' she said through an interpreter. (The current women's masters world record is 2:26:51.)

''When I was passing the 14-kilometer mark, I had to slow down a little bit and didn't complete my desire to beat the world record.''

Sultanova said she gave little thought to the two-time defending champion, even though Karlshoj kept up with her for most of the race. ''I came to struggle with the lead runners,'' she said. ''I didn't even consider her my competition.''

This story ran on page D6 of the Boston Globe on 4/16/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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