Tiki GelanaMarugame, Japan – Ethiopia’s London 2012 Olympic Games Marathon champion Tiki Gelana successfully defended her crown at 67th Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon in 1:08:53, five seconds slower than in 2012, but was made to work surprisingly hard for her second victory on Sunday (3).

Gelana took off from the start and covered the first 5km in a swift 15:52, a minute faster than her opening split from last year and she continued to lead at 10km, which was passed in 32:19, still nearly 30 seconds ahead of her 2012 pace.

However, behind her, New Zealand’s Kim Smith had been less audacious and covered the first 5km in  16:07 and 10km in 32:25 before catching Gelana at 12km.

The pair then ran together for the next 8.5 km before the Ethiopian surged away from her rival to win by seven seconds.

The next five slots were occupied by Japanese and all of them set their personal best. Yuko Shimizu was third with 1:09:32, nearly three minutes faster than she had ever run before for the distance, while Sakiko Matsumi was fourth with 1:10:10 and a personal best by more than two minutes. Aromas Gelana, a younger sister of the 2012 Olympic champion, finished 24thin 1:13:39.

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