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Partrick Makau of Kenya won the 68th edition of the Fukuoka Marathon. The former world marathon record holder cleared the course in 2:08:22. Though this was 5 minutes slower than his world record time of 2:03:38 set in the 2011 Berlin Marathon, it was nonetheless a great victory for Makau who has been dogged by injuries over the last two years.
The Kenyan marathoner outdid Ethiopia’s Raji Assefa who finished second in 2:08:48. Ser-Od Bat-Ochir of Mongolia was third in 2:08:50 setting a national record in the process.
The best placed Japanese, Masakazu Fujiwara, finished fourth in 2:09:06 effectively earning himself a place in Team Japan headed for the 2015 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing in August. This marathon doubled up as a qualifier.
The race in the Japanese town of Fukuoka was run in excellent conditions with temperatures around eight degree Celsius with a light wind.
The winning trio made their intentions known only after the thirty kilometer mark when Bat-Ochir opened the race. But the Mongolian was not to lead alone for very long as after 32km, Makau and Assefa broke away from the rest pack and started to chase him down soon catching up with him. The lead was thereafter interchanged among the three until the 40 kilometer mark. Bat-Ochir had made quite a strong showing around 37 kilometers but the former world recorder holder proved too good for him. By the 40 kilometer mark the Kenyan athlete was firmly in control and he was not to be challenged thereafter.
Makau is back to winning ways and he can only hope that the nightmare of last two years will only be a part of his running history.
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Kenyans dominate Amsterdam Marathon
After he triumphed in a marathon with a personal best of 2:06:22 at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday, 19 2014, Bernard Kipyego later admitted that he had started to wonder when his day would come but the day finally came. The Kenyan athlete finished just under a minute outside the course record of 2:05:36 set by his compatriot Wilson Chebet 12 months ago. His performance was outstanding considering the unseasonal high temperatures and humidity in the Dutch city.
Kipyego said that they had to be careful at the start of the race because the mercury had risen to 19 degrees Celsius and the humidity was around 90 per cent. They were also battling against a strong wind as they ran alongside the Amstel River but it was at least in the second half of the race on the way back to the centre of Amsterdam because the wind was at the runners’ backs.
There were only the two pacemakers at 25km, Eliud Tarus and Michael Mutai together with nine others and all the favorites too. Wilson Chebet was among the nine and he was hunting for his fourth win in the Amsterdam Marathon but later dropped out.
At 35km, the leading group had only two-time world champion Abel Kirui who was racing for the first time in Amsterdam and Kipyego together with John Mwangangi, Essa Rashed and Lucas Rotich. However, Kipyego took the lead with less than five kilometres to go ahead of Kirui after the struggle became hard of him after suffering from bouts of malaria in the past few months. Kipyego’s friend and training partner Rotich was second in 2:07:18, and Mwangangi was third in 2:07:28, both men setting personal bests. Kirui finished sixth in 2:09:45.
23-year-old Ethiopian, Betelhem Moges crossed the line in 2:28:35 to win her first ever marathon. She was followed by Kenya’s Ogla Kimayo who finished second in 2:29:15 and Burundi’s Canada-based Diane Nukuri Johnson came third in 2:29:35, breaking her own national record.
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Berlin Marathon started just as a normal race in 1974 with only 284 athletes who used to run through the nearby woods. Later in 1981, Berlin Marathon moved to the city's streets and since then, the race attracts more than 70,000 runners every year.
Berlin Marathon Director, Mark Milde who took it over from his father, the founder, in 2003 says that’s there are a number of key factors that make it an ideal race for breaking records. According to Mark, one of the key factors is that Berlin is flat with few corners and the race starts at 38m above sea level without getting higher than 53m sea level or lower than 37m sea level. This is more favorable compared to London which has more twists and turns and runners often face the wind when running along the River Thames past Embankment and also Boston because of its finishing line which is line is so much lower than its starting line thus making it ineligible for world record.
Also, competitors in Berlin usually run on tarmac and compared to concrete this seem to be more helpful. Runners say that they have few problems with their joints after the race.
Another factor is that Berlin Marathon takes place in late September and the running conditions in this month are close to ideal because there is no much wind and the temperatures are in the range of 12C to 18C and experts says is the optimum temperature for a fast race. The good weather and the flat course is believed to be secret behind the spate of world records being broken at this event though this only started in 2007.
Two top stars Kenyan athletes, Kimetto and his compatriot Emmanuel Mutai raced in Berlin this year maintaining a world record pace until Kimetto broke away three miles from the finish. Kimetto became the first man to run a marathon in less than two hours and three minutes and this has led to renewed speculation about when, not if, we will see the magical two-hour barrier broken.
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