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Kenyan Nicholas Chelimo and Lisa Weightman of Australia cruised to commanding victories at the Nagano Olympic Commemorative Marathon, on Sunday.
The 12th Nagano Olympic Commemorative Marathon is an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race.
Men’s race –
Surging away from Peter Kariuki of Kenya and Abiyote Guta of Ethiopia before 35Km, Chelimo, who has a personal best of 2:07:46, the fastest among the entrants, won in 2:10:24, just seven seconds short of the record set be Erick Wainaina in 2000. Wainaina, the 1996 Olympic marathon bronze medallist as well as the 2000 Olympic marathon silver medallist, ran again in Nagano this year and finished tenth.
A small lead group of four East Africans formed early. After a group of 12 runners passed 5Km in 15:30, Guta along with Chelimo, Kariuki and Lemech Mokono covered the next 5Km in 14:52 and thus moved away from the rest of the field. Mokono dropped off the pace before 20Km, but other three ran together until Chelimo surged away from Kariuki and Guta after 30Km. By 35Km, Chelimo had an 18 second lead over Kariuki, who lives in Japan and runs for Mazda track team. Chelimo extended his lead to 54 seconds by 40Km and won by 66 seconds.
Kariuki, whose marathon best was a modest 2:13:38 recorded in 2008 at the Lake Biwa Marathon, improved his best by more than two minutes to 2:11:30 to finish second. Shadrack Kiplagat, who has a personal best of 2:07:53, did not even go with the lead pack in the early stages. However, he steadily moved up and finished third in 2:12:49. Masaru Takamizawa, who won the 2008 Hokkaido marathon, finished fourth.
Women’s race -
The women’s race was dominated by Weightman, who was 18th in the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. She improved her personal best by nearly two minutes from 2:30:42 to 2:28:48.
She ran with Kiyoko Shimahara, Irene Limika and Irina Timofeyeva in the early stage of the race. Timofeyeva, the defending champion, was the first to lose contact. With apparent injury she was gone before 15Km. The three ran together for a few more Km before Weightman surged away from Shimahara, who has the marathon personal best of 2:25:10 and Limika, whose marathon best is 2:28:31.
By 20Km, Weigthman was six seconds ahead of Limika. Weightman ran the rest of the race completely alone. As Weightman continue to extend her lead, Olena Burkovska moved up to join Limika and Shimahara in the chase pack. Weightman was 74 seconds ahead of the second place by 25Km, which was extended to a minute and 33 seconds by 30Km. Meanwhile, by 30Km, Burkovska was alone in second place.
Weightman won by more than three minutes over Burkovska of Ukraine, and thus became the first Australian to win the Nagano Marathon. Eri Hayakawa, the 2003 Honolulu Marathon champion, came from behind strongly and finished third. She was followed by Shimahara and Limika.