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Running in warm conditions which topped out at 19 C, Oleg Marusin of Russia and Ro Un Ok of the People’s Republic of Korea took the respective titles at the 24th Mangyongdae Prize Marathon, the Pyongyang International Marathon in on Sunday (10).
Marusin won the men’s contest in 2:13:58 while Ro clocked 2:32:06 at this IAAF Bronze Label Road Race.
Men’s race -
The race started and ended under cloudy skies from the Rungrado May Day Stadium, the largest stadium in the world with a 150,000 spectator capacity. The stadium appeared be almost full during the race which is the only yearly international athletics event in the People’s Republic of Korea.
The first five kilometre marker was reached in 15:47 which ensured that this was not going to be a record breaking event this time in the men’s race. Thirty-year-old Kenyan Morris Mureithi Mwangi, the winner of this event in 2004 and runner-up in 2007, made the first move, taking a clear lead at the 10Km mark in 31:03, some 23 seconds ahead if countryman Phillip Bandawe. The main group consisting of 10 runners was already 31 seconds behind Mwangi at this stage.
But the Kenyan had made his move far too early, he lost most of his lead in the next 5Km reaching 15km in 47:15, but his lead was now cut to only 11 seconds before the main group. The Kenyan however tried to break away once more extending his lead back to 22 seconds at the 20km mark in 1:02:43, being chased by three men now: home runner Ryo Bong Hyok, South African David Ngakane and Russian Oleg Marusin. Mwangi was still leading after 25km in 1:18:44 with his lead now at 16 seconds ahead of the chasing trio. The 2004 winner was finally caught before the 30km which the leading group now consisting of four men passed in 1:34:57 and Ryo Bong Hyok was dropped before 35km to leave Mwangi, Ngakane and Marusin to fight for the win.
Marusin, 30, running only his second Marathon outside Russia (he won in Atlanta 2008), finally took a clear lead before the 40km split and held on to win in a personal best time 2:13:58 with Mwangi grabbing his second runner-up position in this Marathon in 2:14:51. Ngakane faded quite badly, but was still able to hold on to his third place in 2:15:31 with Ryo Bong Hyok being the best runner for the hosts in fourth place bettering his previous best by more than six minutes to 2:15:48.
Women’s race -
The women’s race started with a good pace and the 5km was passed in 17:03, but then the race slowed down considerably. Seven runners were in the main group which reached 10km in 34:53 and six were left at 15km in 52:43. There weren’t any changes before 20km where the lead group was timed 1:10:42. The leaders, consisting of home runners Pak Jong Nyo, Kim Chol Sun, An Un Suk and Chinese Chang Jinxue, continued to pull away from the chasers reaching 25km in 1:28:38. Kim Yon Ok was 11 seconds behind with Jong Yong Ok 47 behind and group of Rim Kyong Sim, Rim Yon Hui and Ro Un Ok exactly one minute behind the leaders at this stage.
But this was exactly where the real race began as the next 5km marked a huge kick by Ro Un Ok, in ninth place and a minute behind at the 25km mark. The 21-year-old, only running her third Marathon, cut 17 seconds off the lead moving to fifth place after 30km. At the top Pak Jong Nyo left the others behind passing 35km in 2:04:44 leading by a good 29 seconds, but Ro Un Ok had already moved to second place having shortened the gap by another 13 seconds in the last 5km.
With Ro challenging from behind, Pak hit a wall before 40km with Ro moving now to a clear lead which she held on to easily to win in 2:32:06, a personal best by almost eight minutes. An Un Suk was second in 2:33:47 and Pak Jong Nyo just managed to pass badly fading Chinese Chang Jinxue for the third place in 2:34:07 with Chang timed 2:34:17.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF
Leading Results: MEN - 1. Oleg Marusin, RUS 2:13:58 2. Morris Mureithi Mwange, KEN 2:14:51 3. David Rasefako Ngakane, RSA 2:15:31 4. Ryo Bong Hyok, PRK 2:15:48 5. Ri Hyon U, PRK 2:19:03 6. Song Kum Song, PRK 2:19:14 7. Hwang Chung Min, PRK 2:19:50
WOMEN - 1. Ro Un Ok, PRK 2:32:06 2. An Un Suk, PRK 2:33:47 3. Pak Jong Nyo, PRK 2:34:07 4. Chang Jinxue, CHN 2:34:17 5. Rim Yon Hui, PRK 2:35:20 6. Kim Chol Sun, PRK 2:35:29 7. Jon Kyon Hui, PRK 2:35:49 8. Cha Jong Ok, PRK 2:35:60 9. Rim Kyong Sim, PRK 2:36:09 10. Zhang Junli, CHN 2:36:41