Monday, June 17, 2024
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Assefa and Bekelech won Xiamen- China Marathon 

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Ethiopian duo Asefa Boki Kebebe and Bekelech Gudeta were victorious at the C&D Xiamen Marathon, winning the World Athletics Platinum Label road race in 2:06:46 and 2:22:54 respectively.

Kebebe upset a quality field that contained three sub-2:05 runners, outracing Kenya’s Felix Kirwa in the final seven kilometres to take the men’s title, falling just 27 seconds shy of the course record.

A leading group of more than 10 runners passed through 10km in 29:28 and 15km in 44:20. After the leaders hit the 20km mark in 59:08, defending champion Philimon Kiptoo Kipchumba and fellow Kenyan Kibiwott Kandie, the fastest entrant with a personal best of 2:04:48, both withdrew.

The pace decreased slightly after 20km but the leading group continued to shrink. At 25km there were only five runners left in the leading pack: Kebebe, Kirwa, Solomon Kirwa Yego of Kenya, Ethiopai’s Adane Kebede Gebre and Moroccan record-holder Othmane El Goumri.

Gebre dropped out of contention just before 30km, which the leaders reached in 1:29:13. After another kilometre, 31-year-old El Goumri tried to make a move. Although the Moroccan’s attempt went in vain, Yego failed to keep up. After the leading trio hit 35km in 1:44:43, El Goumri gradually faded away as well.

Kirwa – who has marathon titles in Yichang, Stockholm, Macao, Singapore and Antwerp – took second place in 2:06:52. El Goumri finished third in 2:07:18.

Like Kebebe, 26-year-old Gudeta also emerged victorious from a stacked field, but her victory was more comfortable.

An Ethiopian trio of Gudeta, Aberu Ayana Mulisa and Ftaw Zeray led the women’s race to 15km in 55:09 with the closest chaser, Morocco’s world bronze medallist Fatima Ezzahra Gardadi, lagging more than 40 seconds behind.

Gudeta continued to extend her lead and went on to win in 2:22:54, shaving two seconds from the PB she set when winning in Prague two years ago.

Gardadi finished second in 2:24:12 taking almost a minute off her PB in what was her second race in Xiamen in five weeks following a 1:11:14 victory at the Xiamen Half Marathon. China’s Zhang Deshun was third in 2:26:53.

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