Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono Sunday obliterated both his own course record and pre-race favourite Kenenisa Bekele from Ethiopia to retain his Amsterdam Marathon title in the Dutch capital city.
The 33-year-old Kenyan became the first man to run a sub 2 hours and 05 minutes on the course, winning 2:04:06, which erased his previous course record time of 2:05:09 set last year.
With only five kilometres to go, Cherono shook off his last competitor, Bekele before storming the Olympic Stadium triumphant in a race that saw three runners coming under 2:05 for the first time on the course.
Kenenisa Bekele, who was touted to mount a possible challenge to Eluid Kipchoge’s world record (2:01:39) set in Berlin last month, dropped out of the race with 1km left after falling behind, appearing to be injured.
Cherono had finished seventh, one place behind Bekele in the London Marathon in April in a race won by Kipchoge.
Ethiopians Mule Wasihun and Solomon Deksisa finished second and third in 2:04:37 2|:04:40 respectively followed by another Kenyan Gideon Kipketer in 2:06:15.
But it wasn’t a good day for Kenyan women as they failed to recapture the title for the second consecutive time with Ethiopia’s Tadelech Bekele retaining her title in 2:23:07 to lead compatriots in podium sweep.
Shasho Insermu, who is the Copenhagen Half Marathon champion, clocked 2:23:13 for second place while Azmera Gebru returned 2:23:31 for third. Linet Masai, 2009 World 10,000m champion, was the top Kenyan finisher in fifth place with a time of 2:23:45. It was her first marathon.
Meanwhile in Delhi, little known Tsehay Gemechu from Ethiopia crushed favourites, compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba and Kenya’s World Half Marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgogei to win the Airtel Delhi Half.
Gemechu, running her first half marathon, flew to a course record of 1:06:50, taking four seconds off the nine-year-old previous record set by Kenya’s Mary Keitany in 2009. Gemechu got to pocket USD$27,000 (Sh 2.7million) first prize in the richest half marathon in the world.
Jepkosgei came second in 1:06:56 followed by Ethiopian Zeineba Yimer in 1:06:59 as another Kenyan Stacy Ndiwa, who is the Africa 10,000m champion, settled fourth in 1:07:15. Dibaba, who finished third at Berlin Marathon last month, came in sixth in 1:08:36.
Andamlak Belihu sealed Ethiopia’s sweep in both races, winning men’s contest in 59:18, beating compatriot Amdework Walelegn to second place in 59:22 as Kenya’s Daniel Kipchumba claimed the last podium place in 59:48.