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Marathon winners erase Olympic setbacks

Published: 4:28PM Monday April 22, 2013 Source: Reuters

Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede and Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo put last year's Olympic disappointments behind them with victories in the London Marathon today.

Big crowds, undaunted by the Boston Marathon bombings last week, lined the route to cheer on the runners, many of whom wore black ribbons to honour those killed and wounded in the American race.

Kebede, who was not selected for London 2012, overhauled Kenyan rival Emmanuel Mutai in the final kilometre to win in 2h 6m 4s and must surely have secured a place on the list for August's world championships in Moscow.

"Many athletes ran 2h 04m and because of that, they selected them [for the London Olympics]," Kebede said. "In October I went away, won [in Chicago], ran a personal [best] time [2h 4m 38s] and now I win again this competition.

"I'm happy. Maybe I think I'll run in the world championships," said the Ethiopian, also champion in 2010, with a smile.

Jeptoo had, at least, made it to the London Games, but was pipped to women's marathon gold by Ethiopia's Tiki Gelena by five seconds.

This time, however, the Kenyan was not prepared to race it out at the end of the 42.195km slog around London's streets and after pushing the pace at around 30km, she ran solo up the Mall to win in 2h 20m 15s.

The injection of pace proved too much for Jeptoo's only companion, world champion and compatriot Edna Kiplagat, who began to lag and finished more than a minute behind in second.

"Today, I'm very happy, because I won this year in London," said Jeptoo, who has finished in the top three in her eight marathons.

"I knew I was strong, because I have done good training, so I was having a feeling that I could do it."

Gelena, making her debut in the London Marathon, came a cropper after colliding with a wheelchair racer at a drinks station at 15 km and did not feature among the leaders after halfway, eventually finishing 16th.

"I am very sorry about what happened," she said in a statement issued by the race organisers.

"At the 15km point, I moved towards the drinks table, when suddenly another athlete in a wheelchair hit me hard from behind. I fell down, and hurt both legs and my right ankle, and broke my shoe lace.

"I tried to catch up, but was in heavy pain."

Farah cheered

Men's Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotech of Uganda also had a disappointing debut, finishing sixth and struggling to keep up with the blistering pace set in the first half of the race, which also put paid to world record holder Patrick Makau, who was 11th.

Britain's double Olympic track champion Mo Farah kept up with the leaders for the first half of the race, before dropping out as planned, soon after the athletes crossed Tower Bridge.

Farah, who will make his marathon debut in next year's race, was greeted with a huge cheer from the crowd, as he stepped behind the barriers.

A 30-second silence in tribute to the Boston victims was held before the men's and the mass start. London had deployed extra police in the wake of last Tuesday's two explosions near the Boston finish line, which killed three people and wounded 176.

Some 36,000 fun runners, many of them in fancy dress, began the race in the London sunshine.

The crowds enjoyed a spectacle of speed and endurance, as the men's pacemakers set off inside world record time and the leaders reached the halfway point in 1h 1m 34s.

Stanley Biwott, winner of the 2012 Paris Marathon, was six seconds clear at 35 km, but his lead was short lived and he was caught by Mutai, who swept past his Kenyan team-mate and kept on going.

It looked a decisive move by Mutai, who set the course record of 2h 4m 40s when winning in 2011, but Kebede found a second wind and made his way through the field as they drew closer to the line to give the spectators a thrilling finish.

"When I caught Emmanuel, I did not believe it. I was asking how many in front of me and was happy catching them one by one."

Kebede, arms pumping and running with a steady rhythm, passed Mutai in the final kilometre.

"I'm very disappointed," said Mutai. "I had some trouble with my hip and thigh.

"I thought I might win today, but could not pick up the pace in the late stages."