Kenyan Lonyangata and Ethiopian Melese triumphant at Shanghai Marathon

SUN CITY – Kenya’s Paul Lonyangata and Yebrgual Melese of Ethiopia took the men’s and women’s title at the Shanghai International Marathon, a World Athletics Gold Label road race, on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Lonyangata broke clear before 35km and led alone the rest of the way to hit home with a clocking of 2:08:11, 57 seconds shy of the 2:07:14 course record he set in the Chinese city in 2015.

“It has been five years since I run here last time,” Lonyangata said. “I noticed nobody had broke my course record so I came back to break it myself. But the weather was much hotter than five years ago.”

The temperature was around 15 degrees when the race started but rose quickly. When the men’s leaders reached 20km 1:00:12, it was already near 20 degrees.

A group of 12 runners led the race to a fast pace in the early stages, reaching 5km in 14:57 and 10km in 29:58. When the leaders passed the 15km mark in 45:01 they were already 47 seconds ahead of the course record, and by 20km they were still six seconds ahead.

But the pace slowed after 20km and when the last pace maker left the seven-runner leading pack, the leaders were 43 seconds behind the record time.

“I think the pacers stopped too early. One of the two pacers stopped after 11 kilometres and the other left by 25km. Because of the weather and the pace maker, I did not break the course record,” said Lonyangata, who decided to control the race with his own pace after 30km and pulled clear by 35 km before breaking the tape in style to celebrate his first marathon victory of the year.

Hassan El Abbassi of Bahrain, who set the Asian record of 2:04:43 last year in Valencia, finished second in 2:08:58, followed by Limenih Getachewof Ethiopia with a clocking of 2:09:14.

Defending champion Melese also managed to confirm her favourite status in the women’s race although the wining time of 2:23:19 is more than two minutes slower than the 2:20:36 course record she achieved 12 months ago.

As the fastest entrant in the field with a personal best of 2:19:36 set last year in Dubai, the 29-year-old Melese was among a six-athlete leading group in the first half of the race. When she arrived at the 25km water stations in 1:24:12, only countrywoman Waganesh Mekasha managed to keep up with the chasers trailing 16 seconds behind.

After another four kilometres, the 27-year-old Mekasha began to fade gradually. Melese was leading by 14 seconds at 30km and kept widening the gap until wrapping up her fourth title over the classic distance.

Mekasha, a 2:22:45 performer, finish second in 2:25:37 while Ethiopia’s Obse Abdeta, 19, finished third in 2:27:47 in her marathon debut.

African News Agency (ANA)

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