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

Champions successfully defend Ottawa Marathon titles

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.


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.”


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

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

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