Ethiopia’s Gulume Tollesa Breaks Course Record at Honk Kong Marathon

Gulume Tollesa wins the Hong Kong Marathon (Organisers)

Ethiopia’s Gulume Tollesa successfully defended her title at the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon with a course record of 2:29:37, while 44-year-old Kenneth Mungara beat opponents half his age to win the IAAF Gold Labelroad race in 2:13:39 on Sunday (21).

Tollesa started with the intention of retaining her title, but the 25-year-old also had one eye on the course record of 2:30:12, set six years ago by compatriot Misiker Demissie. Joined by a small handful of athletes, Tollesa passed through 10 kilometres in 34:45 before reaching half way in 1:14:22, suggesting a finishing time within 2:30 was possible.

The lead pack of Tollesa, fellow Ethiopians Meskerem Assefa, Fantu Jimma, Betelhem Moges, Meseret Legesse and Kenya’s Lucy Kabuu stayed together for another 10 kilometres, passing the 30-kilometre point in 1:47:09.

Moges and Legesse were the first of those to fade, shortly followed by Kabuu. The remaining trio – Tollesa, Assefa and Jimma – ran together for another 20 minutes before Jimma began to drift back, leaving Tollesa and Assefa out in front.

Tollesa proved to be the strongest in the closing stages as she pulled ahead to win in 2:29:37, six minutes shy of the PB she set when winning the 2015 Frankfurt Marathon. Assefa, the Rotterdam Marathon champion, finished five seconds adrift, while Jimma was third in 2:30:10. All three women finished inside the previous course record.

“I was very prepared for this marathon but the weather conditions made it difficult,” Tollesa told the South China Morning Post. “The wind was challenging to run in, there were a few ups and downs. In general, it was OK. I’m very happy to have won last year and again this year.”

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