Race champions extend lead on World Marathon Majors 2008-09 leaderboard; Keflezighi, Ritzenhein set personal records
From Jeremy Borling
LONDON - (April 26, 2009) - Olympic gold medalist Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya and Irina Mikitenko of Germany scored victories at the 29th Flora London Marathon on Sunday to extend their leads in the 2008-09 World Marathon Majors (WMM) series. Wanjiru held off the other podium winners from last summer's Beijing Olympics, in establishing a course record and a personal record time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 10 seconds. For Mikitenko, her defending time of 2:22:11 was a comfortable 1:01 over runner-up Mara Yamauchi of Great Britain.
The Flora London Marathon was the second of six races in the WMM series. At the conclusion of the two-year series this fall, the male and female point leaders will each be awarded $500,000. Wanjiru and Mikitenko now have commanding 35 point leads on their respective leaderboards.
Wanjiru beat runner-up and Beijing bronze medalist Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia (2:05:20) by 10 seconds, while Olympic silver medalist Jaouad Gharib of Morocco was third in 2:05:27. Both Kebede and Gharib also set personal records on Sunday. Wanjiru led a group of men on world record pace for much of the race.
Wanjiru, 22, had predicted he would break Haile Gebrselassie's world record of 2:03:59 and with near perfect conditions across the British capital - light winds, hardly a cloud in the sky and temperatures expected to rise no higher than 15C / 59 F degrees.
But crazy early speed dashed Wanjiru's hopes as the leaders sped through halfway in 61:35 after setting off inside two hour pace. They'd been asked to take the leaders to 20 miles, but could never maintain such a high tempo. For Wanjiru, though, by the end the win was enough.
"A course record is very good but in the end it was better to win the race because of all the good runners around me," said Wanjiru who earned $155,000 and moved into seventh place on the all-time list ahead of last year's course record setter Martin Lel. Kebede also moved into the top 10, and the times of the three medalists mean the average of London's ten best times make it the second fastest in the world, just two seconds on average slower than Berlin.
In the women's race, Mikitenko and Yamauchi separated themselves early in the race from a chase back, but Mikitenko's strength and experience proved to be the deciding factors as she pulled away at the 1:50:00 mark into her race. Mikitenko, 36, became the first woman since Paula Radcliffe in 2003 to retain her London Marathon title and won the third marathon of her career to cement her place as the world's #1.
"I was always confident that I had it in my legs, and after 20 miles, I saw no reason why I couldn't win," said the German record holder who improved on her 2008 time by more than two minutes. "I felt once I pushed the pace a little the others wouldn't follow."
Yamauchi gave the record home crowds much to cheer as she surprised even herself by finishing second in 2:23:12, taking nearly two minutes from her PR, while the European 5000m record holder Liliya Shobukhova produced a debut run to remember, finishing third in 2:24:24.
The American trio - Olympians Meb Keflezighi, Dathan Ritzenhein and Kate O'Neill - finished 9th, 11th and 13th respectively. Olympic silver medalist Keflezighi and Ritzenhein set PRs of 2:09:21 and 2:10:00, while O'Neill ran 2:34:48.
More than 35,000 competitors finished the 2009 London Marathon, the last ever to be sponsored by Flora (next year, Virgin is the race title sponsor).
The current year's World Marathon Majors series will continue this summer at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Berlin in August. The fall season will kick off at the real,- Berlin Marathon on September 20, followed by the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 11, and the series finale at the ING New York City Marathon on November 1.
For more WMM series information including complete standings, go to: www.WorldMarathonMajors.com.
29th Flora London Marathon
London, GBR, Sunday, April 26, 2009
1) Sammy Wanjiru (KEN), 2:05:10*, $155,000
2) Tsegay Kebede (ETH), 2:05:20, $105,000
3) Jaouad Gharib (MAR), 2:05:27, $97,500
4) Emmanuel Mutai (KEN), 2:06:53, $65,000
5) Hendrick Ramaala (RSA), 2:07:44, $35,000
6) Abderrahim Goumri (MAR), 2:08:25, $22,500
7) Yonas Kifle (ERI), 2:08:28, $20,000
8) Atsushi Sato (JPN), 2:09:16, $9000
9) Meb Keflezighi (USA / CA), 2:09:21, $8000
10) Felix Limo (KEN), 2:09:47, $5000
11) Dathan Ritzenhein (USA / OR), 2:10:00, $2500
12) Tessema Abshiro (ETH), 2:11:18, $1000
13) Andi Jones (GBR), 2:15:20
14) Marty Dent (AUS), 2:15:24
15) Rafal Wojcik (POL), 2:16:41
*course record (previous record, 2:05:15, Martin Lel, 2008)
1) Irina Mikitenko (GER), 2:22:11, $80,000
2) Mara Yamauchi (GBR), 2:23:12, $45,000
3) Liliya Shobukova (RUS), 2:24:24, $32,500
4) Svetlana Zakharova (RUS), 2:25:06, $15,000
5) Berhane Adere (ETH), 2:25:30, $12,500
6) Inga Abitova (RUS), 2:25:55, $10,000
7) Catherine Ndereba (KEN), 2:26:22, $6500
8) Tomo Morimoto (JPN), 2:26:29, $5500
9) Gete Wami (ETH), 2:26:54, $4500
10) Lyudmila Petrova, 40, RUS, 2:27:42, $2000
11) Yuri Kano (JPN), 2:28:44
12) Zhou Chunxiu (CHN), 2:29:02
13) Kate O'Neill (USA / CA), 2:34:48
14) Mika Okunaga (JPN), 2:35:36
15) Michelle Ross Cope (GBR), 2:36:02
Full results at: www.London-Marathon.co.uk.