After a ruthless four-man battle in the last 10km, Kenya’s Paul Lonyangata outraced two-time defending champion Stephen Mokoka to win the Shanghai International Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, with a course on Sunday (8).
Lonyangata, the 2010 world junior 10,000m bronze medallist, won in 2:07:14 to cut 30 seconds off the personal best he set when finishing second at the 2013 Xiamen Marathon.
The race was staged under cool conditions with the temperature remaining about 15C during the race. The men’s race, consisting of an elite field of 10 sub-2:08 runners, saw a fast pace with a crowded leading pack hitting the 5km mark in 13:30, 10km in 28:20, 20km in 59:40 and 30km in 1:30:20.
The race came to its climax in the last 10km when the leading group was trimmed to only four runners including Lonyangata, Mokoka, Kitata and Ethiopia’s 2014 Tokyo Marathon champion Endeshaw Negesse, who has a PB of 2:04:52.
Mokoka tried to pull away and take a sole lead but after a series of speed changes Mokoka found himself still closely followed by Lonyangata at 36km. After 37.5km the Kenyan started to take over the lead and left no chance for Mokoka to turn the tables.
The 22-year-old Kenyan’s winning time bettered the previous course record of 2:08:43 set last year by South African Mokoka.
The 30-year-old Mokoka also reached a career high as he finished second in 2:07:40, improving his PB of 2:08:33 which had stood since his marathon debut in 2010.
Ethiopia’s relatively unheralded 19-year-old Tola Shura Kitata finished third in 2:08:53.
“Two weeks ago when I was training in Kenya, I injured my ankle so I just wanted to try my best today,” said a jubilant Lonyangata, who clocked 1:00:01 to finish fifth at the Copenhagen Half Marathon in September.
“Today it was my day. I did not expect to win. I was so happy.
“The weather is much better than I expected. There was some wind and rain with not a lot of humidity,” added Lonyangata, who will receive a total of US $55,000, which includes a $10,000 course record bonus.
Kiyara makes it a Kenyan double
The women’s race was also won by a Kenyan runner. 31-year-old Rael Nguriatukei Kiyara held off a strong challenge from Ethiopia’s Letebrhan Haylay to win in 2:26:23.
Although Kiyara’s winning time is one minute shy of her PB of 2:25:23 set in 2011 when finishing fourth in Eindhoven and more than four minutes away from the 2:21:52 course record set by Tigist Tufa of Ethiopia last year, it was a season’s best and her second victory in China this year. She set a course record of 2:31:22 at the Lanzhou Marathon in June.
Haylay, who will turn 25 at the end of this month, clocked 2:28:11 to finish second. It was only the third marathon to date for Haylay, who made her marathon debut in Hong Kong in January and registered a PB of 2:25:24 to finish third in Prague in May.
Rahma Tusa, another relatively inexperienced Ethiopian, finished third in 2:33:57 in what was the 22-year-old’s marathon debut.
The trio paced the race for most of the first half, passing 15km in 52:22. Tusa slowed down near the half-way point while Haylay built a sole lead before passing 30km in 1:43:20.
The seasoned Kiyara did not push herself to follow and instead ran at her own pace. Narrowing the gap little by little, Kiyara took the leading position after 36km and never looked back before breaking the tape.
Kiyara became the first Kenyan to win the women’s title in the 16-year history of the race, ending a four-year title sweep by Ethiopian women.
This year’s Shanghai International Marathon attracted some 15,000 participants with another 15,000 running in associated events including a half marathon, 10km and 5km.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF