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Zhou Breaks 2:20 Mark in Marathon Win

Posted March. 13, 2006 08:06,   


Zhou Chun-xiu of China displayed outstanding race management and defended her women’s marathon crown yesterday in the 2006 Dong-A Seoul International Marathon, finishing the race in 2:19:51 to take 11th place in the international women’s marathon rankings.

Zhou made excellent use of male runners, including Georgi Andreev, Simon Sawe, and Jang Jong-su, as pacemakers to break the 2:20 barrier.

Zhou, who had declared that she would break her own record of 2:21:11, ran the first five kilometers of the race in 16 minutes 53 seconds, and ran every five-kilometer section after that in the 16-minute range. Every five-kilometer section must be finished in at least 16:34 to break the 2:20 barrier.

Despite chilly weather and high winds, Zhou ran an effective race by controlling her running speed from section to section.

It has become a tactic in world-class marathons such as the London and New York marathons for women to use male runners as pacemakers. Pacemakers allow other runners to time their pace in segments over the full 42.195km marathon distance. Zhou ran with a group of seven to eight male runners in most of yesterday’s race.

In the men’s race, Gert Thys of South Africa won after a pair of gambles. After joining the all-Kenyan lead group comprised of William Kipsang, Jimi Muindi, and Luke Meto at the 12km point, Thys made his first sprint at 15km. He left the others about 30 meters behind, but was soon caught. He made another sprint at 17km, losing his followers. This won him the race. After running past the 20km point, Thys shortened his 5km lap time to 14:51 for the remainder of the race. Feeling sure of victory after 30km, Thys slowed his pace and finished the race first, adding another marathon win to his year’s tally since the Beppu-Oita marathon in February.