Gilbert Yegon won the men’s race at the 12th Metro Group Marathon Duesseldorf crossing the line in 2:08:07 on Sunday (27).
On slippery roads, the Kenyan missed the course record by just 19 seconds. Almost as importantly, it was his first win in an international race for almost five years, his last win over any distance coming at the 2009 Amsterdam Marathon, which he won in what remains his personal best of 2:06:18.
Endeshaw Negesse was second in 2:08:32 while his fellow Ethiopian Fikadu Teferi ran 2:09:34 on his debut for third place.
The race started fast with split times of 29:54 at 10km and 44:56 at 15km and when a group of 16 runners passed the half way mark in 1:03:31, they were still well on course for the course record of 2:07:48 run by Dereje Debele 12 months ago.
The defending champion from Ethiopia was among the leaders at this stage. However in very wet and relatively cool conditions, with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees Celsius, Debele was among those who suffered badly during the second half of the race.
Among the first of the favourites to lose contact with the leaders was Ethiopia’s Shami Abdulhadi Dawud. The second fastest on the start list with a best of 2:05:42, he started to lose ground around the 25 km mark, passed by the leaders in 1:15:36 and later dropped out at 31km. The Kenyan pacemaker Ronald Korir bravely held on until the 35km mark, which he reached in 1:46:04, but Debele had lost contact three kilometres earlier and, suffering cramps, he dropped out at 38km.
Five runners were still in contention after Korir dropped out and the course record was still a possibility for any one of Yegon, Negesse, Teferi, Ethiopia’s Shengo Kebede and Kenya’s Moses Masai. However with the pacemaker gone it was only Yegon who was able to push the pace.
For a short period it looked as if Negesse would be able to hold on, but the fastest runner on the start list with a best of 2:04:52 was also suffering in the cold and wet and Yegon put more than a minute between himself and his Ethiopian rival in the final six kilometres.
“I had a look at him before I drew away and he did not look that strong anymore,” reflected Yegon. “I am very happy to have won my second marathon now. It was my aim to win the race and my goal was to run 2:06 – but this was not possible in these conditions."
There was a sensational American victory in the women’s race. Annie Bersagel won the race in the race with a personal best of 2:28:59.
She overtook pre-race favourite Selomie Getnet with only three kilometres to go. The Ethiopian, who had a big lead in the middle of the race, was second with 2:30:29. Kenya’s Emily Ngetich ran 2:30:50 for third place.
Adding other running events staged in conjunction with the marathon, a total of 16,000 runners took to the streets of the German city.
Organisers for the IAAF