Kenya’s Sylvester Chebii, 26, won the ninth annual Country Music Marathon on Saturday in a time of 2:14:27. In the women’s race, Svetlana Ponomarenko, 38, from Russia outkicked defending champion Olena Shurkhno, 30, from Ukraine, finishing in 2:30:33.
The rain, which dampened the pre-race morning, broke before the start gun fired yielding cool running temperatures for more than 30,000 runners and walkers.
Men’s race -
A pack of ten elite men were first out on the 26.2-mile course. Russian Mikhail Khobotov, 35, attempted to push the pace after the 10k mark, but the men appeared content to preserve a conservative pace. At the half-marathon mark the men were on a 2:17:00 marathon pace. Augustus Kavutu, 31, of Kenya, placed the first surge into the race after mile 14 as the pack ran along the banks of the Cumberland River, dropping Sergey Yemilanov from Russia and Ethiopia’s Abebe Yimer.
The second surge came on the approach to mile 17 lead by Chebii and countryman Christopher Torotich, 27. The lead pack, which included 26-year-old Ketema Nigusse of Ethiopia and Kenyan Meshack Kosgei, 33, dropped the remaining men as the group ran the fastest mile of the race (4:53) through mile 19.
As the men exited Shelby Park towards the finish, outside LP Field, Nigusse faded and Chebii was mounting his final attack on his opponents.
“It was a tough race, but I felt confident I could win in the final miles,” said Chebii.
Women’s race –
Ponomarenko’s steady pace decimated her counterparts in the women’s race from the first 5k to the finish line. By the 10k mark she controlled an 18 second lead. By the half-marathon, she was leading by more than a minute and once she broke the finish line tape, she was more than three minutes ahead of her closest competitor Shurkhno.
“It was a perfect day and I really took advantage of it,” said Ponomarenko through her interpreter and agent, Anbrey Baranov.
Ponomarenko ran unchallenged by her competitors and unchallenged by the course averaging a 5:40 per mile pace along her winning tour of Nashville.
Ian Monahan for the IAAF
1. Sylvester Chebii, 26, Kenya, 2:14:27, $17,500
2. Meshack Kosgei, 33, Marietta, GA (US), 2:14:55, $8,000
3. Christopher Torotich, 27, Kenya, 2:15:18, $4,000
4. Ketema Nigusse, 26, Ethiopia, 2:16:15, $2,000
5. Benjamin Itok, 36, Kenya, 2:18:16, $1,250
1. Svetlana Ponomarenko, 38, Russia, 2:30:33, $17,500
2. Olena Shurkhno, 30, Ukraine, 2:33:37, $8,000
3. Anzhelika Averkova, 30, Ukraine, 2:35:36, $4,000
4. Sharon Cherop, 23, Kenya, 2:39:52 $2,000
5. Albina Gallyamova, 43, Russia, 2:40:23, $1,250