By Special Correspondent
As was widely expected, the Kenyan men won the London Marathon on Saturday April 21. This Kenyan win is for the fourth year in a row, consolidating the East African track maestros as the undisputed masters of the race track.
Martin Lel, 2005 winner, staged a spectacular comeback by outpacing Moroccan first timer, Abderrahim Goumri, to the finish line. Lel finished at 2:07:41, only three seconds ahead of Abderrahim, who came in at 2:07:44.
Last year’s defending champion, Felix Limo, also from Kenya, sprinted in three seconds after the Moroccan, and finished at 2:07:47. As the battle for the top position raged, the three high speed runners relied on immense bursts of stamina and courage in the coveted marathon event. Morocco’s run for the title was dislodged last minute, as Lel increasingly displayed his massive agility and finishing power. Last year, an almost similar scenario happened, when Felix Limo outpaced Lel. This time round, though, Lel’s performance put him well beyond an ordinary déjà vu.
World marathon record holder, Paul Tergat, also from Kenya, and Ethiopian track maestro, Haile Gebrselassie, had no answer to the bristling pace set up by Lel and his compatriots, Limo and Goumri. Tergat finished sixth with 2:08:06, and Gebrselassie dropped off the race after two hours, with a stitch in his belly. An almost similar fate met him at the World cross country in Mombasa Kenya in February this year, when he dropped off the race with some unspecified physical complications.
Lel’s win came one week after another Kenyan sweep of the four top positions at the recently concluded Boston Marathon. The London series also consolidated Boston Marathon winner, Robert Cheruiyot’s lead at the inaugural World Marathon Majors, which is a cash machine for top world athletes. The main winners will spilt a total of $500,000 amongst themselves.
China’s Chunxiu Zhou won the women’s category at 2:20:38. Gete Wami from Ethiopia took the second position, with a time of 2:21:45. Kenya’s Salina Kosgei finished fourth, with 2:24:13, beating another former Kenyan-turned-Netherlander, Lorna Kiplagat, who finished fifth with 2:24:46.
Ajabu Africa News, © 2007
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KENYA’S DOMINATION TO BE TESTED IN THE LONDON MARATHON TODAY
Photo finish under tight security: the exact official time of the winner, Robert Cheruiyot, as caught by ajabuafrica.com
Kenyan fans living in Boston turn out to cheer their runners while proudly waving Kenyan flags
Photography and story
By Harrison Maina
Even before the dust settles on the Boston Marathon that occurred last week in a battle of human endurance against the weather elements, Kenyans will again be in London today for the London Marathon. The event promises to pay even more money to the winners than the Boston Marathon. The leading men and women winners of today’s marathon in London will split $1 million amongst themselves. Expectations of both the runners and their fans worldwide are high.
In Last week’s Boston Marathon, more than 22,000 runners braved the chilly weather, occasioned by a massive North Eastern storm that had been pounding the New England region for three days before the marathon. The rain and gusts of wind were up to 50 mph that day
Robert Cheruiyot, who was abandoned outside someone’s doorstep in a basket as an infant, showed his toughest mental and physical survival instincts. He battled against the unrelenting Kwambai and Kiogora, through the treacherous route of the rural town of Hopkington in Massachusetts. By the time the runners approached the near-impossible hill in Newton, they were totally worn out. It was a matter of courage, determination, and energy reserves, which Cheruiyot proved to have in plenty. Jared Nyamboki and Josephat Ongeri acted as the rabbits from the start by setting the pace, only to slow down after 30 miles, letting the more seasoned runners take over.
Cheruiyot won the race by clocking (2.14.08), followed closely by compatriots, James Kwambai at (2:14:33), and Stephen Kiogora from Meru district, at (2:14:47). James Koskei (2:15:05) came in fourth position, to complete a cool sweep of the first four spots of the oldest city Marathon in the history of the world. A total of 9 Kenyan runners finished in the top 15 positions of this epic race.
Cheruiyot had won this marathon for the first time in 2003, then set a new record for the same event in 2006. Sustaining some internal injuries, Cheruiyot had slipped and fallen as he crossed the finish line to win the 2006 Chicago Marathon. It was evident that winning the Boston Marathon was a matter close to his heart. Disproving the old adage that “big boys don’t cry,” this Kenyan gentleman shed a tear when the National anthem was played in Boston, as Mayor Tom Menino handed him the winner’s trophy. Cheruiyot went home $100,000 richer (about 7 million Kenya Shillings). Kwambai pocketed $40, 000, while Kiogora took $25,000. Given the recent appreciation of the Kenya shilling, this prize money was a lot of cash to the recipients.
During the Boston Marathon, the women’s race was won by Russia’s Lidiya Grigoryeva, at (2:29:18). Latvia’s Jelena Prokopcuka followed at (2:29:58), and Perez Madai of Mexico, came in at (2:30:16) in the third spot. Kenya’s Jeptoo Rita, the Elite Women runners 2006 defending champion, finished fourth, at (2:33: 08). Ethiopia’s Robe Tota Guta finished in 6th position, while another Kenyan lady, Alice Chelanga, took the 8th position.
Today’s win is expected to consolidate Cheruiyot’s position as the top-ranking leader in the World Marathon Majors, with a total prize of $500,000, followed by another Kenyan, Felix Limo; Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie in the third place, and Mexican Marilson Gomes dos Santos respectively.
The London Marathon will put to test Kenya’s domination in the big cash marathon circuits when World record holder Paul Tergat of Kenya clashes with Ethiopian race maestro, Haile Gebrselassie. Both of them, however, will be fighting an uphill battle against last year’s London Marathon superstar, Felix Limo, also from Kenya. Other notable runners will be Italy’s gold medalist, Stephano Baldini, and double world champion, Jaouad Gharib of Morocco.
Ajabu Africa News, © 2007
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