Today, on Saturday 12th of May, I ran and won Göteborgs Varvet (in Sweden), which is the biggest half marathon in the world, if you go by the number of participants. Today more than 62.500 people ran the half marathon alone. Can you imagine? I was really impressed.
I felt confident coming into the race, since my last weeks of training had gone really well. I felt the shape was improving and I was ready for it.
On Tuesday Hugo and I traveled to The Netherlands and on Thursday we continued our journey, from Amsterdam to Göteborg, Sweden - in this way I made sure I was fresh for the race. We were welcomed by the organisation in a very beautiful hotel and in general I can say that we had an extremely pleasant and well organized stay in Sweden. The organisation was very kind and really did their best for us top-athletes.
We knew the race is big, but not very fast. The course record for the women is 1.09.04 by Joyce Chepkurui (who later ran two minutes faster than that). It's quite hilly and also the weather is often not great. For this years edition the weather was not bad, about 12 degrees Celsius and no rain. The only disturbance was the strong wind. I had decided that I would not try to run a good time, but would focus on my position alone, which is normally my strongest point.
The race: from the start 2 ladies were leading; Alemu Bekele from Ethiopia and Rose Chelimo from Kenya. I followed not far behind, with Ana Dulce Felix from Portugal and Helah Kiprop from Kenya, who both have a faster personal best than me. After 7 kilometers, we got up with the leaders. Chelimo dropped, but Bekele hang on, so we continued with the four of us.
From the 10k point, which we passed after 32.40, I was leading all the way, sometimes with Kiprop next to me. First Felix dropped (later she would pass Kiprop again), after about 18k Kiprop dropped. Than it was between me and Bekele from Ethiopia. Although I felt strong enough for a finishing kick, I did not want to take the risk, so I decided to kick with about 800m to go and she had to let me go.
The result was like this:
1. Hilda Kibet (Netherlands) 1.09.27
2. Tadelech Bekele (Ethiopia) 1.09.31
3. Ana Dulce Felix (Portugal) 1.09.50
4. Helah Kiprop (Kenya) 1.10.09
5. Isabelah Anderson (Sweden) 1.10.30
6. Rose Chelimo (Kenya) 1.11.04
Despite the fact that I ran faster before (1.08.39 is my personal best, which I ran in RAK), I consider this race to be the best half marathon I ever ran, because of the course and circumstances.
Off course I am very happy with this victory. It shows to me, what I already thought and hoped; my shape is improving.
In 3 days I will fly to Boulder, Colorado, where I will do my preparations for the Olympic Games. I am going there with a lot of confidence, knowing that I am strong and ready to start the marathon training. It's still 12 weeks until the marathon at the Games, so there is a lot of time to improve my shape further.
Below my last 80 meters of the race.