An Ethiopian Double at Shanghai International Marathon

Yebrqual Melese wins the Shanghai Marathon (AFP / Getty Images)

Ethiopia’s Yebrgual Melese reduced the women’s course record by more than a minute at the Shanghai International Marathon on Sunday (18), while compatriot Abdiwak Tura took the men’s title following a breath-taking home stretch battle, securing the first Ethiopian double in the 19-year history of the IAAF Gold Label event.

Running in cold and drizzly conditions with temperatures ranging from 10 to 12 degrees, Melese built up a comfortable lead in the final five kilometres to wrap up the win in 2:20:37, beating the course record of 2:21:52 set three years ago by compatriot Tigist Tufa.

The 28-year-old led a group of seven and maintained a fast pace in the early stage of the race, passing 10 kilometres in 35:30 and 20 kilometres in 1:06:30. The group was cut to three women at the 25-kilometre water station, which they reached in 1:23:35, and Muluhabt Tsega of Ethipia quit the title contest after another two kilometres.

The in-form Melese, whose PB of 2:19:36 from Dubai earlier this year made her the fastest entrant, kept pushing ahead. After several unsuccessful mini-breaks, she finally pulled away from Azmera Abreha to achieve the sole lead after 36 kilometres and never looked back before breaking the tape in style to celebrate her first marathon title in three years.

Eight of the top 10 finishers in the women’s race achieved a lifetime best. The 20-year-old Abreha, also from Ethiopia, improved her PB by more than three minutes to finish second in 2:21:51. Third place went to Kenya’s Betty Lempus, who improved her PB by nearly six minutes to 2:23:41.

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