Kenya’s Helah Kiprop broke the women’s Tokyo Marathon course record by nearly a minute to claim her first major title over the distance.
The 30-year-old was forced to settle for second place at the 2015 edition of the event, but saw her hopes of victory boosted after defending champion Birhane Dibaba of Ethiopia dropped out of the lead group inside the opening 35 kilometres.
Her compatriots Amane Gobena and 2013 winner Aberu Kebede were able to position themselves in a four-woman group, along with Kenya’s Kiprop and Edna Kiplagat.
Kiprop, the silver medallist at last year’s World Championships in Beijing, was gradually able to move clear of her rivals and began closing in on securing a personal best and course record in the Japanese capital, which will host the 2020 Olympic Games.
The Kenyan was able to achieve both feats as she crossed the line in 2 hours 21 min and 27 sec to shave 56 seconds off the previous course record, which was set by Ethiopia’s Tirfi Tsegaye in 2014.
Gobena was able to claim second place after completing the distance in 2:21:51, while a time of 2:22:36 proved enough for Kiplagat to secure the final podium spot.
The men’s event was a far closer affair as Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa and Kenya’s Dickson Chumba went head-to-head for the victory.
Neither man was able to pull away from the other throughout the majority of the race, with the final two kilometres ultimately settling the encounter.
Lilesa was able to sprint clear of the 2014 champion and claimed his first World Marathon Majors win in a time of 2:06:56.
Despite losing the battle for the victory, it appeared that Chumba would improve on his third place finish at last year’s edition of the race.
However he was caught and passed in the final metres by Bernard Kipyego, who finished one second ahead of his fellow Kenyan by crossing the line in 2:07:33.
Reigning Olympic champion Stephan Kiprotich ended outside the podium places, with the Ugandan clocking 2:07:46 for fourth place.
The race brought an end to the ninth World Marathon Majors Series, with Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge and Mary Keitany crowned the winners of the men’s and women’s competitions respectively.
Keitany had ended level with Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba and Helah Kiprop on 41 points at the end of the series, but received the honour after a vote of the organisers of the six series races.
The winners were each awarded a total $500,000 (£360,000/€457,000), while the United States’ David Mark and Ireland’s Barbara Fleming-Ovens were recognised having completed all six races of the series.
“This year we’ve demonstrated our commitment to championing the sport, supporting the elite runners who prove that marathoners are among the world’s greatest athletes, and celebrating the 250,000 runners who every year join us on our iconic courses,” said Tim Hadzima, general manager of the World Marathon Majors.
“Congratulations to Eliud, Mary, David, Barbara and all our Six Star Finishers, and we look forward to the beginning of Abbott World Marathon Majors Series X and the new Wheelchair Series in Boston in April.”
- By Michael Pavitt republished with permission insidethegames.biz