24 April 2000Lesotho's Thabiso Moqhali won the 13th Belgrade Marathon on Saturday, completing the 42.195km in two hours, fifteen minutes and eight seconds. His 33-year-old's compatriot Persy Sephooa came second while South African Laurence Peu was third.
Moqhali's victory came as a surprise, since Kenyan runners, headed by Jimmy Muindi, winner of December's Honolulu Marathon and the second in the 1998 Belgrade race, were top favourites. But Muindi came fourth, followed by five other Kenyans, a minute behind Moqhali, Commonwealth Champion in 1998.
Lameck Aguta, winner of the Boston Marathon in 1997, whose
comeback to the races was expected with much interest after a two-year break following an
horrific car crash on Kenya's dangerous roads, failed to be among the first twenty.
"The race was quite easy, but it was extremely hot" (23 degree Celsius) Moqhali said after the race, adding that he "was trying to help my training partner Persy" Sephooa, who came second. This was the first marathon for Sephooa, who also complained of "extremely hot weather."
And the course record, 2:12:27, set in 1994 by Russia's Vladimir Bukhanov, will remain unchallenged until next year.
This year's Belgrade Marathon was also the Balkan
Championships, one of the oldest in the world, dating back to 1929.
Petko Stafanov of Bulgaria came first, leaving behind runners from Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Macedonia.
Cristina Pomacu of Romania won the women's marathon title in 2:36:54. Rimma Dubovik of Ukraine was second with Moldavian Svetlana Tcaci third.
Pomacu has also won the Balkans Women's Championship, while Yugoslav champion and record holder, Suzana Ciric, a four-time winner, disappointed, getting only eight place in the marathon, with 2:49:53.
But Yugoslavs were celebrating a new star, a teenager Veronika Badnjar, who came seventh in her first official marathon race.
Moqhali won 15,000 dollars while Pomacu, as the first woman, received 10,000 dollars.
1. Thabiso Moqhali (Lesotho) two hours 15 minutes 08
2. Perey Sephoaa (Lesotho) 2:15.20
3. Lawrecne Peu (South Africa) 2:16.17
4. Jimmy Muindi (Kenya) 2:16.28
5. Josephat Ndeti (Kenya) 2:16.30
6. Onesmus Mutisya (Kenya) 2:16.41
7. Patrick Chumba (Kenya) 2:17.42
8. Ambrose Makau (Kenya) 2:17.48
9. Meshack Mutungi (Kenya) 2:17.51
10. Petko Stefanov (Bulgaria) 2:19.30
1. Cristina Pomacu (Romania) 2:36.54
2. Rimma Dubovik (Ukraine) 2:37.35
3. Svetlana Teaci (Moldova) 2:39.09
4. Kotu Meseret (Ethiopia) 2:42.35
5. Tatiano Maslova (Russia) 2:42.49
6. Bededa Asegedech (Ethiopia) 2:48.35