Kenyans triumph in Paris Marathon

Sunday April 8 2018

Kenya's Betsy Saina celebrates after winning the 42nd edition of the Paris Marathon on April 8, 2018 in Paris. PHOTO | ERIC FEFERBERG |

Kenya's Betsy Saina celebrates after winning the 42nd edition of the Paris Marathon on April 8, 2018 in Paris. PHOTO | ERIC FEFERBERG |  AFP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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Kenyans swept the 2018 Paris Marathon race on Sunday winning both the men and women's events.

Paul Lonyangata defended his men's crown, while US-based Betsy Saina won the women's event, her first major.

The two champions finished almost together.

Kenya's Paul Lonyangata celebrates after winning the 42nd edition of the Paris Marathon on April 8, 2018 in Paris. PHOTO | ERIC FEFERBERG |

Kenya's Paul Lonyangata celebrates after winning the 42nd edition of the Paris Marathon on April 8, 2018 in Paris. PHOTO | ERIC FEFERBERG |AFP

Kenya's Paul Lonyangata celebrates after winning the 42nd edition of the Paris Marathon on April 8, 2018 in Paris. PHOTO | ERIC FEFERBERG |

Kenya's Paul Lonyangata celebrates after winning the 42nd edition of the Paris Marathon on April 8, 2018 in Paris. PHOTO | ERIC FEFERBERG |AFP

Lonyangata passed Betsy Saina, the women's winner, in the last few hundred metres.

Lonyangata finished in 2hr 6min 21sec, while Saina won her race in 2:22:56.

The women's race started 16min 26sec before the men, the difference in times between the male and female winners last year.

Lonyangata becomes the second man in history to win the Marathon title back-to-back after Briton Steve Brace achieved the feat in the 1998 and 1999.

Lonyangata edged out compatriot Mathew Kisorio, who came in second 11 minutes later in 2:06:36, as Ernest Ng’eno completed Kenya’s podium sweep in third place 15 seconds off the pace in 2:06:41.

Kenya's Betsy Saina celebrates after winning the 42nd edition of the Paris Marathon on April 8, 2018 in Paris. PHOTO | ERIC FEFERBERG |

Kenya's Betsy Saina celebrates after winning the 42nd edition of the Paris Marathon on April 8, 2018 in Paris. PHOTO | ERIC FEFERBERG |AFP

“It’s such a wonderful feat and I am in love with this Paris course,” said Lonyangata, who made the race a family affair last year when he won alongside his wife Purity Rionoripo.

“I saw the leading lady (Saina) at the 38km mark and I decided to push on and overtake her,” said Lonyangata.

Interestingly, it’s Saina, who crossed the finishing lane second just behind Lonyagata, her first major victory in personal best 2:22:56, beating compatriot Ruth Chepng’etich to second by four seconds, as Ethiopian Chala Gulume settled third in 2:23:06.

Saina, who warmed up for Paris with victory at Muragame Half Marathon in Japan with a personal best of 1:09:17 on February 4 this year before finishing seventh at New York City Half Marathon on March 18, said she is delighted to have won on her third appearance in marathon.

Runners from the Women's Elite Group compete during the 42nd edition of the Paris Marathon on April 8, 2018 in Paris. PHOTO | ERIC FEFERBERG |

Runners from the Women's Elite Group compete during the 42nd edition of the Paris Marathon on April 8, 2018 in Paris. PHOTO | ERIC FEFERBERG |AFP

Saina failed to finish the Tokyo New York Coty Marathons in February and November last year.

“We were a group with 12 kilometres to go but I hanged on there but starting to break,” said Saina, adding that when she saw Chepng’etich, who was second falling to react, she decided to push hard.

“I followed the elite men, who had just passed me,” said Saina.

It was the third consecutive time that Kenyan athletes have swept to victory in the men and women's races in Paris.

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