Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru won his first London Marathon title in a course record time yesterday, and Irina Mikitenko defended her title in the women's race.
Wanjiru won in 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 10 seconds, finishing ahead of the same two men who made the Olympic podium in Beijing. This time, however, Beijing Games bronze medalist Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia was second and Jaouad Gharib of Morocco was third.
Wanjiru had been on course to break Haile Gebrselassie's world record at the halfway point.
"The course was very hard, up and down," the 22-year-old Kenyan said. "It was a bit of fast course."
Wanjiru used a series of surges to hold off Kebede, who finished the 42.2-kilometer race 10 seconds behind in a personal best time. Gharib was third in 2:05:27.
Defending champion Martin Lel of Kenya pulled out on Saturday due to a hip injury.
In the women's race, the 36-year-old Mikitenko broke away from the field to win in 2:22.11.
In the final 10 kilometers, the German runner surged ahead of Mara Yamauchi of Britain, who finished 1:01 behind. Liliya Shobukhova was third in 2:24.24, one of four Russians in the top 10.
"I was always confident that I had it in my legs as everything in myself felt good and after 19 miles I saw no reason why I shouldn't win," Mikitenko said.
Japan-based Yamauchi ran a personal best of 2:23.12.
Olympic champion Constantina Dita of Romania pulled out after the halfway mark due to breathing difficulties after slipping off the pace. Beijing Games silver medalist Catherine Ndereba of Kenya was seventh and Chinese bronze medalist Zhou Chunxiu, the 2007 London champion, finished 12th.
Paula Radcliffe, a three-time London Marathon champion, withdrew last month because of a toe injury.
(Agencies via Shanghai Daily April 27, 2009)