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Kenyans Lawrence Kimaiyo and Hellen Mugo set new course records at the 89th running of the International Peace Marathon in Kosice, Slovakia, on Sunday.
Kimaiyo clocked 2:07:01 to break the previous mark of 2:08:33 set by Gilbert Chepkwony in 2010 while Mugo's 2:29:59 eclipsed the old record by 51 seconds.
Conditions were nearly ideal - 15 C., cloudy, no wind, only slight rain - for Europe's oldest marathon which also saw a participation record with 7400 runners from 46 countries contesting all the day's events. Some 30,000 people in the streets of this easter Slovakian city were satisfied as well.
The first four men all went under Chepkwony's previous course record. Kimaiyo forged to the lead after the 36th kilometre en route to a big personal best after running nearly identical halves of 1:03:54 and 1:03:57.
"Im very satisfied with my personal best and course record," said Kimaiyo, whose previous best of 2:11:46 was set in Turin in 2010, his only previous Marathon. "My feelings were great from the beginning, we also had here in Kosice top weather for marathon running. I believed I could be the winner. I was preparing for this race since January."
Pacemakers Peter Wanjiru and Richard Sigei helped until 30 kilometres. Then Evans Ruto, who was considered a favourite before the race, ran for some time with Kimaiyo but then began to drift and then in a dramatic finish, lost the battle for second to Philemon Baaru by just 0.02 seconds as both were credited with 2:07:49. Both were personal bests significant personal bests; Baaru had run 2:09:51 last year in Porto and Ruto clocked 2:08:36 in Cologne in 2009.
Kimaiyo's winnings for the day were 15,000 Euros; if he had run sub-2:07, the total would have been 20,000.
Elijah Kemboi was fourth but produced a substantial improvement in his personal best as well, dropping from 2:11:15 to 2:07:51. There was also a personal best for fifth-place finisher Bellor Yator (2:08:39), with Vincent Kiplagat clocking 2:09:30, just eight seconds shy of his PB, taking sixth.
It was a new record for Kosice with six sub-2:10 runners in one competition with a tenth Kenyan male victory.
In the women's race, 2:27 runner Mugo fulfilled her favorite role, but started very fast with a 1:12:12 first half, clearly on track for the first sub-2:30 by a woman in Slovakia. She faded dramatically at the end (19:08 split between kilometres 35 and 40, second half in 1:17:47) but still managed exactly what was needed to clock 2:29:59. Her first place and record prize money was 10 000 E.
"I felt excellent that is why I started fast," said Mugo, who won 10,000 Euros for her efforts) "Despite being tired at the end I was confident about the win and new record. It was not that tough for me."
Running a more even pace (1:14:58 and 1:16:31), last year's winner Maryna Damantsevich of Belarus was second with a new life-time best of 2:31:29. Ethiopian Ehitu Kiros Reda also notched a PB 2:33:43 for third.
The Slovak national titles went to Jozef Urban (overall 11th, 2:25:34) and Ingrid Petnuchova (overall 5th, 2:55:58). Slovak best walker and London 50 km eight placer Matej Toth competed in the Half Marathon but only jogged, clocking 1:42:36.
Alfons Juck for the IAAF
Leading Results - MEN: 1. Lawrence Kimaiyo, KEN, 2:07:01 CR, PB, 15,000 E 2. Philemon Baaru, KEN, 2:07:49, PB, 5500 E 3. Evans Ruto, KEN, 2:07:49 PB, 3500 E 4. Elijah Kemboi, KEN, 2:07:51 PB, 2500 E 5. Bellor Yator, KEN, 2:08:39 PB, 1000 E 6. Vincent Kiplagat, KEN, 2:09:30, 600 E 7. David Toniok, KEN, 2:10:39 PB, 500 E 8. Gezu Belete, ETH, 2:13:16, 400 E 9. Mehari Baraki, ETH, 2:16:40, 300 E 10. Peter Kurui, KEN, 2:18:38, 200 E
WOMEN: 1. Hellen Mugo, KEN, 2:29:59 CR, 10,000 E 2. Maryna Damantsevich, BLR, 2:31:29 PB, 2500 E 3. Ehitu Reda, ETH, 2:33:43 PB, 1500 E 4. Natalya Malaya, UKR, 2:53:46, 1000 E 5. Ingrid Petnuchova, SVK, 2:55:58, 500 E 6. Patricia Ganovska, SVK, 3:04:11, 300 E