Athens, GreeceFrederick Cherono always looked the likely winner of this morning's Athens Classic Marathon that proved far more temperate than the Olympic races.
Cherono, 28 in two weeks’ time, eased in behind pacemaker, Josephat Chemjor right from the start in Marathon, and although he had another Kenyan colleague, Barnabas Ruto for company for around 90 minutes, Cherono looked so easy, and proved it as he ran away from Ruto at the 35 kilometre mark, and swept into the Panathenaiko Stadium in Athens, to win by a minute and a half, in 2:15:28.
Ruto was second in 2:17:09, and debutant, Christopher Kosgei third in 2:17:19. Kenyans took all the top places, with first ‘foreigner’, Oleg Kharitonov of Russia, 12th in 2:23:32.
Cherono’s victory was compensation for missing today’s New York Marathon, due to US visa problems, and he announced a long term aim of running London in April next year.
But he will also always treasure the silver replica of the cup that was awarded to Spyros Louis for winning the 'original' Olympic race in Athens 1896.
With temperatures ranging from 10-18C (50-65F), compared to well over 30C for the Olympic races, Cherono looked as if he could have gone much faster. But his claim that he could have broken the course record (Stefano Baldini’s 2:10:55 for Olympic gold) was perhaps optimistic.
But he did concede that getting close to his 2:08:38 best, set in winning Torino earlier this year was out of the question. “No, this is too hilly, and I train on the flat in Kenya. I was confident from the start, but there is no way I could do 2:08 on this course. I will train for London next year. I think I can break my best there”.
Women's race - Russian prevents Ethiopian sweep
The women’s race was much closer, with Svetlana Ponomarenko of Russia leading a trio of Ethiopians for the majority of the race. But she was powerless to respond when Zinach Alemu forged ahead in the last two kilometres. Alemu won in 2:41:11, from colleague, Areba Hiruet, 2:41:18, with Ponomarenko third in 2:41:42.
Pat Butcher for the IAAF
1 Frederick CHERONO KEN 2:15:28
2 Barnabas RUTO KEN 2:17:09
3 Christopher KOSGEI KEN 2:17:19
4 Michael KAPKIAI KEN 2:17:24
5 Stanley LELEITO KEN 2:17:32
6 John NGENO KEN 2:17:39
7 David MAYO KEN 2:18:56
8 Patrick CHUMBA KEN 2:19:23
9 Daniel KIRWA TOO KEN 2:20:18
10 Elijah YATOR KEN 2:20:47
1 Zinach ALEMU ETH 2:41:11
2 Areba HIRUET ETH 2:41:18
3 Svetlana PONOMARENKO RUS 2:41:42
4 Derbe HUNDE ETH 2:41:59
5 Georgia AMPATZIDOU GRE 2:45:26
6 Janna MALKOVA RUS 2:45:53
7 Magdalini GAZEA 2:46:25
8 Grete VARCHI ITA 2:46:27
9 Magda KARIMALI GRE 2:48:13
10 Nina PODNEBESNOVA RUS 2:50:14