Tadese Tola of Ethiopia broke the event record set 27 years ago to win the men’s race at the Beijing International marathon on Sunday, two months after he claimed a marathon bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
“It was my first time to compete in Beijing and I am happy for today’s result,” said Tola, who will turn 26 by the end of the month. “The weather is very good and the course is very good too.”
Tola clocked two hours, seven minutes and 16 seconds to finish the race, trimming the former event record set by Japanese runner Taisuke Kodama in 1986 by 19 seconds.
The Ethiopian improved his marathon personal best to 2:04:49 and finished third in his first race of 2013 at the Dubai Marathon. He also finished as runner-up at the the 2013 Paris Marathon.
“After the World Championships I never stopped training. So I came to Beijing with good form,” said Tola who clocked 2:10:23 to take the bronze in Moscow worlds with the gold went to Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda in 2:09:51.
Launched in 1981, the Beijing Marathon witnessed a fast and close competition on Sunday as the leading trio were almost shoulder-to-shoulder at the last 500 meters, before Tola surged a fast homestretch sprint to hit the finishing line first.
Benard Kiprop Kipyego of Kenya trailed 3 seconds behind to finish second while his countryman Rono Daniel Kipkurgat finished third in 2:07:20.
China’s 22-year-old runner Zhang Yingying claimed the title of women’s event in 2:31:19, extending China’s overwhelming record in the women’s race of Beijing Marathon as it was the 22nd straight women’s title won by Chinese since 1992.
Makda Harun Haji of Ethiopia pocketed the silver in 2:33:04 while the bronze was notched by Yeshimebet Tadesse Bifa, also from Ethiopia, in 2:35:20.
“I just ran to my normal level today like I usually did in my training. During the last part of the race I was leading alone and I think if someone can chase me closely the result could be better,” said Zhang, whose personal best is 2:22:38 when she won the Xiamen Marathon with a course record in 2008.
“After 35 kilometers I was feeling exhausted but I managed to hang on and took the gold,” she added.
Zhang claimed the half marathon title at Beijing Marathon in 2006 and finished second in the full length race in 2007. She also competed in the women’s 5,000m and 10,000m event in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.