Kennedy Cheboror clinched the Chongqing International Marathon in China on Sunday.
Cheboror upset a quality field that included several sub-2:10 runners to achieve his first career win over 26.2 miles. His winning time of 2:13:41 is 3:20 shy of the personal best he set in Brescia 12 months ago.
Ethiopia’s Abayneh Ayele, the fourth-place finisher at the 2016 World Half Marathon Championship and who boasts a PB of 2:06:45 from the 2016 Dubai Marathon, wasn’t quite at his best and had to settle for second place in 2:14:12. Paul Waweru came third in 2:15:06. A group of 12 paced the race to the 5km water tables and after they passed 10km in 32:22, the leading pack started to shrink with only nine athletes left at the 12km mark.
The nine leaders, including Ethiopia’s defending champion Afewerk Mesfin, who holds the course record of 2:09:49 from last year, remained together for 20km. They all seemed reluctant to waste energy on early charges with only Ethiopian veteran Regasa Bejiga trying to pull away after midway but only saw his effort come to nothing. After hitting the 30km mark in 1:45:48, the patient Cheboror began to make his move. He broke away from the other eight to seize the sole lead and kept pushing on until the finish.
In the women’s category, Ethiopia’s Meseret Legese carried the day. The 30-year-old led a four-woman leading group in the first 15km and enjoyed a comfortable sole lead in the final stages of the race after passing the 30km mark in 1:45:48, 35km in 2:03:29 and 40km in 2:21:22. She broke the tape in 2:28:55 although the winning mark is more than six minutes shy of the course record of 2:22:41 set by Chinese Wang Jiali in 2012. It was Legese’s third marathon victory in China. The Ethiopian has competed in China each year since 2011 and set her personal best of 2:25:43 when winning the 2016 Wuhan Marathon before claiming the title at the Hengshui Lake International Marathon in the same year.
Almaz Negede, also from Ethiopia, cut more than three-and-a-half minutes off her career best to take second place in 2:30:31. The 31-year-old also has extensive experience running in China. Her previous PB of 2:34:09 was set from her second-place finish at the 2015 Taiyuan International Marathon and last November she took another second place at the Hefei Marathon in Central China.