Ethiopian Legese defends Tokyo Marathon title
JOHANNESBURG – Ethiopian Birhanu Legese successfully defended his Tokyo Marathon crown in 2:04:15, a World Athletics Platinum Label road race on Sunday.
Legese just missed the course record by 18 seconds, but the men’s race witnessed unprecedented depth with 17 men finishing inside 2:08 – including Suguru Osako, who held on to his Olympic qualifying place by breaking the Japanese record with 2:05:29 in fourth place.
The race unfolded at a fast pace, passing 5km in 14:32, 10km in 29:12, and 15km in 43:58, putting the leaders on track for the course record. 16 runners were still together at 20km (58:40).
The pack started to stretch out after the half way, and by 25km the lead pack was down to three runners – Sisay Lemma, Birhanu Legese, Mengstu Asefa plus the pace maker.
The pace-maker dropped out at 30km and three remaining runners ran together for another five kilometres before Mengstu started to falter. Finally, at 38.5km, Legese surged away from Lemma for victory in 2:04:15, 33 seconds faster than his winning time last year.
“The weather was good, unlike last year,” said Legese. “It was a little windy, but no rain. 2:04:15 is a good time. I thought I could have run faster today, but it was little bit windy.”
Bashir Abdi came from behind to pass the faltering Lemma, finishing second to take 85 seconds off his own Belgian record with 2:04:49. Lemma was third in 2:04:51, but Mengestu faded to seventh. Getaneh Molla, owner of the fastest debut marathon in history, faded to 19th.
1 Birhanu Legese (ETH) 2:04:15
2 Bashir Abdi (BEL) 2:04:49
3 Sisay Lemma (ETH) 2:04:51
4 Suguru Osako (JPN) 2:05:29
5 Bedan Karoki (KEN) 2:06:15
6 El Hassan El Abbashi (BRN) 2:06:22
7 Asefa Mengstu (ETH) 2:06:23
8 Ryu Takaku (JPN) 2:06:45
9 Daisuke Uekado (JPN) 2:06:54
10 Toshiki Sadakata (JPN) 2:07:05
African News Agency (ANA)