The final 100m of last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Hong Kong Marathon, anÃ‚Â IAAF Silver Label Road Race, looked like a tag-team wrestling match, with four men sprinting to the line, arms and legs flying every which way.
Dereje Abera of Ethiopia emerged from the scrum at the last second to snatch victory and the $50,000 first prize. But, returning to defend his title in SundayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 17th annual Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon, he still recalls the photo-finish with bemusement.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I always thought I could win, but you can never be sure with the Kenyans. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the same this year; there are a lot of good Kenyans in there. Also there are no pace-makers here in Hong Kong, so a lot of people stay together, and the pace goes up and down. The weather is the same, one day itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s warm, one day cold.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Race date is determined by Chinese New Year, which was earlier this year, so the race is three weeks later than 2012, and in this part of the world that means potential 20Ã‚Â°C and humid conditions towards the end of the race, which begins at 7am local time (11pm GMT Saturday).
Abera set a course record of 2:11:27 last year, but Julius Maisei of Kenya was only a second behind in fourth place; and having finished second in 2011, would dearly love to carry off the increased first prize of $57,000 on Sunday.
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