An atmosphere and a champion to remember
Thousands of spectators assembled along the course and by the finish line today on the Pont du Mont du Mont Blanc to encourage the runners as they neared the finish line. The atmosphere was electric as the spectators helped the runners achieve their objectives, whether it be a new personal record or simply to enjoy the race in a splendid setting.
Setting off from Chêne-Bourg under sunny skies at 8:30am, 6,200 half marathoners and 4 wheelchair athletes were the first to get underway this morning. With more runners than ever, the Half-Marathon appeals to more and more runners every year in Geneva.
We were treated to a special moment on the Pont du Mont-Blanc, as Julien Lyon and Sisay Yazew crossed the finish line hand in hand to win the Half Marathon together in a time of 1h07m33s. Moroccan athlete Mohammed Meftah El Khair completed the podium for the men, whilst American runner Yiou Wang took the win in the women’s race in a time of 1h18m34s.
For his third participation in the Half Marathon, Italian runner Fabio Robbiati who runs with Procter & Gamble was delighted to achieve the goal he’d set out for himself, “My race went really well,” he said, “I knew the course as I’ve done it twice before. The route is great, as it’s flat and then we descend into the city towards the end. I managed to run under 1h30 so I’m delighted, next year I’ll be back to try and beat 1h25m”.
In the wheelchair category, the win was taken by Frenchman Carlos Rodriguez for the men and Swiss athlete Emmanuelle Domon.
Following in the footsteps of the Half Marathon runners were the 2,300 participants in the Marathon. Starting with a beautiful loop through the Geneva countryside, runners then came back into town and along the lake to reach the finish line on the Pont du Mont-Blanc under the shadow of the Jet d’Eau.
For her first participation on the Marathon in Geneva, American runner Yu Tien-Tien was delighted with her experience, “It was my 9th marathon but my first time in Geneva,” she explained, “It was really warm so I took the time to appreciate the countryside and enjoy myself. The organisation was brilliant, a big thanks to everyone!”
At the front of the race it was William Yegon who made the most of his experience from 2017 to defend his title at the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef in a time of 2h12m10s. Leading the race alongside his compatriot Joseph Aperumoi until the 28th kilometre, he let himself be distanced slightly before accelerating with 6km to go and passing Joseph for the lead just 2km from the finish.
“It was really warm today so it wasn’t possible to beat my course record,” he said, “I didn’t lead the race for long, I overtook my friend just 2km from the finish. I’m really happy to defend my title here in Geneva”.
Joseph Aperumoi finished second just a few minutes back, with Wycliff Biwot completing a clean sweep of the podium for Kenya in Geneva. In the women’s race Fekadu Amelework of Ethiopia won the Marathon in a time of 2h38m05s, ahead of Hisae Yoshimatsu of Japan and Lema Alemitu also of Ethiopia.
Alongside the Marathon runners, 350 teams took part in the Relay Marathon, uniting friends, family members and colleagues to run together. Team members ran between 4.1km and 10.1km to complete the full 42.195km of the Marathon distance.
A group of friends aged 20-22 running under the team name La Mif finished the race hand in hand to cross the finish line together. “We’re just a bunch of friends who fancied a good day out running and a bit of a challenge. We managed to do quite a good time as well, we never expected to do so well,” they said after celebrating and catching their breath after the finish line.
Renowned for the beauty of its course and recognised internationally by the IAAF bronze label for the quality of its organisation, the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef experienced once again a resounding success amongst local runners as well as internationally with 113 nationalities represented on the start lines across the weekend. In total, 18,000 runners were registered to one of the eight race formats on offer – a new record in Geneva!
Benjamin Chandelier, event director, was delighted with a successful weekend, “From the juniors who opened proceedings on Saturday, to the walkers, relay teams and elite athletes, we witnessed some great performances and an amazing atmosphere throughout the weekend,” he said.
“We are always delighted to see a smile on our runners’ faces as they take part in their race of choice. On behalf of the entire organisation committee, I want congratulate all the runners and spectators who attended this weekend. This event wouldn’t be able to take place without our 1000 volunteers, or the unwavering support of the Canton and City of Geneva as well as Chêne-Bourg who hosted the start of our races and all the villages we cross through on the beautiful course. Finally, I would also like to thank all our partners for their ongoing support and commitment”.
1. William Yegon (KEN) – 2:12:10
2. Joseph Aperumoi (KEN) – 2:13:54
3. Wycliff Biwott (KEN) – 2:17:39
1. Fekadu Amelework (ETH) – 2:38:05
2. Hisae Yoshimatsu (JAP) – 2:39:30
3. Lema Alemitu (ETH) – 2:43:00
1. Julien Lyon (SUI) – 1:07:33
1. Sisay Yazew (ETH) – 1:07:33
3. Mohammed Meftah El Khair (MOR) – 1:08:13
1. Yiou Wang (USA) – 1:18:34
2. Hagar Cnanni (ISR) – 1:20:21
3. Isabelle Butticaz (CH) – 1:22:16
Wheelchair Half Men
1. Carlos Rodriguez (FRA) - 54:29
2. Gabriel Thullen (CH) – 1:28:54
Wheelchair Half Women
1. Emmanuelle Domon (CH) – 1:23:47
2. Nathalie Benoit (FRA) – 1:34:10