FILE - Kenyan Stephen Kiplimo. Photo: @Jokin4318/Twitter

NANCHANG - Kenyan Stephen Kiplimo and Ethiopian Melkam Gizaw broke the men’s and women’s course records respectively at the 2019 Nanchang International Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label road race, on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Kiplimo, who competed on Chinese soil for the first time, built a sole lead in the last 10 kilometres to cross the line in 2:09:54, smashing the 2:13:26 course record set by Kenyan compatriot countryman Douglas Kimeli in 2018.

It was the first time Kiplimo broke the 2:10 barrier, eclipsing his previous best of 2:11:28 set last February from his victory at the Castellon Marathon.

The race witnessed a fast pace in the early stages with a lead group of eight reaching 10km in 30:41 and 15km in 46:21. After passing the 25km in 1:17:13, the group started to shrink.

By 30km (1:32:26), four runners remained in contention: Kiplimo, fellow Kenyan Cosmas Kyeva, Tadesse Temechachu of Ethiopia and Chinese Peng Jianhua, who only started to run the 42.195km race this season.

Kiplimo pushed ahead after the 32km mark and soon pulled clear, leaving the chasers scattered behind him. By 35km the Kenyan had built a comfortable lead with Temechachu lagging almost half a minute behind and Kyeva trailing further.

The in-form Kiplimo kept widening the gap and hit home in style to celebrate his third international marathon title.

The 32-year-old Kyeva overtook Temechachu in the last kilometre to cross the line in 2:11:11, the second fastest time of his career following a PB of 2:09:57 achieved in 2014. Temechachu finished third in 2:11:31.

The top-three finishers in the women’s race all beat the course record of 2:35:11 set last year by China’s Jin Mingming.

The 29-year-old Gizaw outraced compatriot Bekelu Beji in the final two kilometres to claim the title in 2:29:01. It is the first marathon title in four years for Gizaw, who just returned from maternity leave.

Her last outing was a third place finish at the 2017 Xiamen marathon in 2:26:47.

Beji, 20, settled for second in 2:29:27, more than one minute shy of her career best of 2:28:21 set in Wuxi eight month ago.

Relatively unheralded Gadise Negesa set a PB of 2:30:30 to complete a podium sweep for Ethiopia.

African News Agency (ANA)