24 MAY 2009 General News Ottawa, Canada

Champions successfully defend Ottawa Marathon titles

Asmae Leghzaoui of Morocco enroute to her second Ottawa Marathon title in 2:27:41 (Victah Sailer)Asmae Leghzaoui of Morocco enroute to her second Ottawa Marathon title in 2:27:41 (Victah Sailer) © Copyright

Kenya’s David Cheruiyot made it four wins in five years, while Asmae Leghzaoui of Morocco also defended her title in Sunday’s Ottawa Marathon - an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

The race was started at 7:00 a.m. under clear skies with a cool breeze keeping the temperature hovering around 15 degrees celsius.

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Earlier this week the 39-year-old Cheruiyot had boldly predicted he could dip under 2 hours 10 minutes but after the pack went through the half way point in 1:05:36 it was clearly not in the cards. Nor was an attack on his own course record of 2:10:35 set in 2005. A further annoyance appeared shortly thereafter as he battled a side stitch and watched Wegayehu Girma (Ethiopia) and Ahmed Baday (Morocco) pull away.

“The conditions were good but I had a stitch around half way and that caused me to reduce my speed,” he explained. “But then I picked up again. I caught them at 41km. I thought I was going to be number three. But with one kilometre to go I saw they were going slow and I tried to catch them.”

With three hundred metres remaining Cheruiyot appeared in front of the spectator’s grandstand in a furious sprint as Girma struggled to stay close. Six seconds eventually separated them and as the Kenyan crossed the line in 2:13:23 he held four fingers aloft to indicate his fourth Ottawa victory.

A race official handed him a Kenyan flag and he jogged back up the finishing straight to the delight of the fans. He earned $15,000 US for the victory.

Baday held on to 3rd place with 2:13:56. It was small consolation for the Moroccan who had done the majority of the pace making.

Reid Coolsaet was crowned Canadian champion in his marathon debut finishing in 2:17:10 for 8th place. For that he earns a $5,000 Cdn bonus.

“I wanted to be the top Canadian,” Coolsaet revealed. “I wanted to run under 2:16. I ran 2:17 low.  I didn’t run as fast as I would have liked to. I can’t complain about the conditions today.”

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Leghzaoui literally halted on the finish line and vomited in front of a wall of photographers, the effort of setting a course record of 2:27:41 clearly visible. She had led from the start and her margin of victory was telling. Second place went to Canada’s Russian born Lioudmila Kortchaguina in 2:32:10.

It has been a difficult year for the 37 year old Toronto resident. In November she lost her  Canadian government funding and after finishing 3rd in the Houston Marathon in 2:30:34 learned her father was gravely ill. She returned to Russia in time to see him before he passed away in early March.

“I knew Asmae had run 1:10 for half marathon by herself two weeks ago and would try to break 2:26 here,” Kortchaguina said. “The others started faster than me and they paid for it. I moved into second place at the half way point. I tried to slow down. But everyone ran faster. Everyone was excited.”

“I don’t know yet if I will run the IAAF world championships in Berlin. I haven’t decided. The Canadian standard is 2:29 but nobody can do it. But for the team? I don’t know yet.”

The winner was accompanied by her husband and coach, Mohammed Arar, who draped a Moroccan flag over her shoulders as she slowly made her way to the athletes’ recovery area.

‘I am happy this year has been very good,” Leghzaoui declared. “I wanted a fast time I went alone but in the last few kilometres there was lots of wind. I expected some runners to push me but after three kilometres I was alone.

“Last year Ottawa was my first marathon. It was good experience. I was training to run faster than 2:27 today.”

Kenya’s Irene Jerotich claimed 3rd place in 2:34:28.

Paul Gains for the IAAF

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1. David Cheruiyot (Kenya)2:13:23
2. Wegayehu Girma (Ethiopia) 2:13:29
3. Ahmed Baday (Morocco) 2:13:56
4. Laban Moiben (Kenya) 2:14:17
5. Ketema Amensitsa Tadesee (Ethiopia) 2:14:48
6. Abraham Kabeto (Ethiopia)2:16:23
7. Thomas Omwenga (Kenya)2:16:32
8. Reid Coolsaet (Canada)2:17:10
9. Fikadu Lemma (Ethiopian)  2:18:31
10. Josephat Ongari (Kenya) 2:19:47

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1. Asmae Leghzaoui (Morocco) 2:27:41
2. Lioudmila Kortchaguina (Canada) 2:32:10
3. Irene Jerotich Kosgei (Kenya) 2:34:28
4. Salomie Getnet (Ethiopian)  2:37:22
5. Fiona Docherty (New Zealand) 2:42:11
6. Evaline Kimuria (Kenya) 2:43:51
7. Katarina Janosikova (Slovak Republic)2:44:50
8. Caroline Chepkorir (Kenya)  2:49:48
9. Myriam Grenon (Canada) 2:51:09
10. Caroline McIlroy (Canada) 2:54:00