Chema Martínez en route to his Madrid Marathon victory (Mareas) © Copyright
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Martínez takes first career Marathon victory in Madrid

Madrid, SpainJosé Manuel Martínez captured a convincing win today at the 31st Madrid Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

In doing so, the 36-year-old Spaniard managed his first ever win at the 42.195 km event after ten appearances. More known as “Chema” Martínez, the former European 10,000m champion clocked 2:12:42 to build a one-minute margin over Kenya’s Frederick Cherono, runner-up in 2:13.42, who got the better of fellow Kenyan Abraham Keter in third (2:14.48).

Due to its 650m altitude Madrid is a far from ideal place to run fast times at distance events but that circumstance was not barrier for the leading group to go through the opening 10km section in a reasonable quick 30:45 clocking with five Kenyans in the lead with only Martínez for company.

The half marathon split of 1:04:19 still promised an assault on the Madrid all-comers best held by Italy’s reigning Olympic champion Stefano Baldini, author of a 2:09:59 performance in the Spanish capital back in 2001. But the temperature (over 20ºC by the arrival) and the hilly closing section defeated that purpose. By that point four men still remained with winning chances, in the guise of the Madrid-native Martínez and the Kenyan trio of Cherono, Keter and Robert Cheruiyot.

As expected, the Spaniard had noisy non-stop support from the home crowd throughout the entire distance and he took advantage of it to make his move at the 30km point which was covered in 1:32.39. Firstly Cheruiyot and then Keter simply could not live with Martínez’s pace.

The local hero also managed to leave Cherono with the clock reading 1:44 (34th  km) to finally take charge of the race, a position he never relinquished to romp home unopposed although slightly outside the Olympic qualifying standard of 2:12:30. However, the Osaka’s tenth placed for the distance will likely be competing at the Olympics thanks to his last year’s clocking of 2:10:12 for second in the Rome Marathon.

The 30-year-old Cherono faltered in the late up-hill stages to finish runner-up in 2:13:42, over four minutes slower than his PB of 2:08:38 when winning the Milan Marathon back in 2004.

“It’s great to succeed in front of your home crowd,” said the ecstatic victor, who also confessed that his knowledge of the circuit had benefited him. “I train everyday at a park named ‘Casa de Campo’ and it was there when I first took command of the event.”

With the focus on the Olympics Martínez stated that “winning here is an enormous boost for me and I look forward to competing in Beijing where I’ll go to any length to make a great result” concluded the Spaniard, a 5th finisher at last December’s European Cross Country Championships in Toro.

Tulu is back, but not successful

The women’s race witnessed a battle between the unheralded Kenyan Rael Kiyara Kguriatukei and Ethiopia’s twice Olympic 10,000m champion Derartu Tulu. The former had a 200m margin over Tulu by halfway and the come-from behind tactic in the second half by the 36-year-old Ethiopian legend could not avoid the Kenyan victory in a modest time of 2:36.15 time, some 17 seconds ahead of Tulu, who was making her first outing - at any event – since the Helsinki 2005 Worlds where she was fourth in the marathon.

Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF

Leading Results:
1. Chema Martínez (ESP)      2:12:42
2. Frederick Cherono (KEN)   2:13:42
3. Abraham Keter (KEN)       2:14:48
4. Robert Cheruiyot (KEN)    2:15:32
5. Larbi Esradi (FRA)        2:16:48

1. Rael Kiyara Kguriatukei (KEN) 2:36:15
2. Derartu Tulu (ETH)            2:36:32
3. Kenza Dahmani (ALG)           2:39:38
4. Pauline Chepkorir (KEN)       2:40:35
5. Eunice Jepkoech Korir (KEN)   2:40:37