Raymond Kipkoech of Kenya (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Raymond Kipkoech and Zhou Chunxiu take wins in Xiamen Marathon

Kenya’s Raymond Kipkoech and Zhou Chunxiu respectively won the men’s and women’s divisions of the third edition of the Xiamen Marathon in China yesterday (26 March). Zhou Chunxiu has now won all three races in Xiamen but more remarkable is the fact that this was her second major marathon win in under 14 days!

WOMEN – Chinese title won but National Games the goal

26-year-old Zhou Chunxiu captured her third successive Xiamen marathon title in 2:29:58 and is the only woman to have won this marathon, as it was only the third version of this competition held in the Fujian province in Southern China. Xiamen is located in the southern part of the province. The Xiamen Marathon has also served as the Chinese National Marathon Championships in each of its three years.

Zhou Chunxiu who was a part of the Chinese Olympic Team in Athens, captured her second major marathon win in only 13 days. On 13 March, she won the Seoul Marathon in a personal best of 2:23:24, the second fastest time in 2005 behind Jelena Prokopcuka's (LAT) world leading time of 2:22:56 in Osaka. Because only 13 days separated these two marathons, it was clear from the start that Zhou's course record from 2004, 2:23:28, was not threatened this time.

The race was a relatively slow one from the start. The leading pack was together until the 37th kilometre running with a pace predicting well over 2:30 finishing time. However, after this point Zhou easily accelerated and won the race in 2:29:58, more than a minute faster than Sun Weiwei finishing second in 2:31:11. Only 20-year-old Sun recorded her second best time in the seventh marathon of her career. She ran an astonishing debut of 2:25:15 in Beijing 2002 being only 17 years old at the time. This marathon marked her return to the top level in China and also grabbed her first National Championships medal.

Zhang Shujing took the third place in 2:31:57. She was another runner completing her second marathon in 13 days, she finished 5th in the Seoul Marathon in 2:29:58. Although Zhang is still only 26 years old, the 3rd Xiamen Marathon marked her 24th completed marathon of her career. Zhang has a personal best of 2:23:17, with that result she grabbed the second place in the 2002 Beijing Marathon.

The winner’s marathon pedigree

This marathon was Zhou Chunxiu's seventh finished career marathon and fifth under 2:30. In Athens she ran with the leading pack in the start of the race, but then suffered badly from the early pace dropping down to 33rd place in the end.

Once more the Chinese winner made sure the rest of the world got the point about their prestigious National Games. Although she is the second fastest in the world this season and Helsinki World Championships are coming up in August, she said she will now concentrate on her next important meeting and that will be the 10th National Games in October!

MEN - former Berlin Marathon takes honours

In the men's race there was a setback as the course record holder and last year's winner with 2:10:54, James Moiben (KEN), suffered from a muscle injury in the race and could not challenge the other top names this time.

The race was pretty quick from the start with the half-way mark already suggesting the course record to be broken. At the 23 kilometres, there were only four runners left in the front. After 30 kilometres, two of these, Raymond Kipkoech (KEN) and Tekeste Kebede (ETH) broke away with Kipkoech finally leaving the Ethiopian behind after the 37km mark. Kipkoech won with the first sub 2:10 finishing time in this marathon's short history, 2:09:49. Kebede faded pretty badly in the finishing kilometres with fellow Ethiopian Shimelis Mola overtaking him for the second place. Mola finished in 2:10:51 against Kebede's 2:12:03.

26-year-old Kipkoech recorded his third major marathon win. In 2002 he won the Berlin Marathon with a personal best of 2:06:47, and last autumn he took the Venice title (2:09:54), having finished second in Paris last spring (2:10:08). His finishing time of 2:09:49 yesterday was his fourth fastest all-time and also his fourth sub 2:10 marathon. Kipkoech said after the race that the weather was really good, but that he was having troubles after 30km and was happy to overcome those later in the race.

Mola bettered his earlier personal best of 2:13:19 with which he finished seventh in the 2004 Xiamen Marathon. This was already his second marathon of the 2005 season, he finished 10th in the Dubai Marathon in January. Kebede Tekeste only finished his second career marathon. Last season his debut in San Diego brought a result of 2:11:48, which he narrowly missed this time.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF


1 Raymond Kipkoech KEN 2:09:49
2 Shimelis Mola ETH 2:10:51
3 Kebede Tekeste ETH 2:12:03
4 Yohei Sato JPN 2:14:38
5 Christopher Kipkosgei KEN 2:14:53
6 Li Jianfei 2:14:56 (National champion)
7 Gong Ke 2:15:11
8 Samson Tuiyange KEN 2:15:28
9 Chai Jiahua 2:16:15
10 Lu Hanxiong 2:16:37
11 Zhang Qingle 2:16:46
12 Fu Mingliang 2:16:47
13 Zheng Yunshan 2:17:21
14 Deng Haiyang 2:17:32
15 Wu Yinshuai 2:17:49
16 Balcha Dida ETH 2:17:59
17 Su Wei 2:17:59
18 Ding Lisheng 2:18:03
19 Wang Lei 2:18:19
20 Belay Teka KEN 2:18:39

22 James Moiben KEN 2:19:18 (last year’s winner)

1 Zhou Chunxiu 2:29:58
2 Sun Weiwei 2:31:11
3 Zhang Shujing 2:31:57
4 Wang Ling 2:32:16
5 Jong Yong Ok  PRK 2:32:50
6 Li Fenjin 2:33:13
7 Wang Linan 2:33:16
8 Mu Shuixian 2:34:43
9 Zhu Xiaolin 2:35:04
10 Shawuti Nuerguli 2:35:30
11 Feyesa Dirbe ETH 2:36:45
12 Dai Yanyan 2:38:21
13 Jin Man 2:39:14
14 Zeng Guang 2:39:29
15 Gao Yanli 2:41:31
16 Pu Zhen 2:41:48
17 Ji Cui 2:42:08
18 Liu Hongyan 2:42:33
19 Wang Xiaoming 2:42:47
20 Yi Miaomiao 2:45:15