Lel wins London marathon

Martin Lel runs the London marathon in a record time.

    Irina Mikitenko wins the women's race [GALLO/GETTY]
    Kenya's Martin Lel won the London Marathon for the third time in four years in a course record, and Irina Mikitenko took the women's race in only her second attempt at the distance.

    Lel outsprinted Sammy Wanjiru to win in a personal-best time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 15 seconds.

    The two Kenyans, and Abderrahim Goumri, had pulled away at 37 kilometers.

    Lel, who also won in 2005 and '07, finished nine seconds ahead of Wanjiru.

    Goumri was third in 2:05:30.

    Germany's Mikitenko broke away at the 38-kilometre mark to win in 2 hours, 24 minutes, 14 seconds.

    She beat Svetlana Zakharova by 25 seconds, with Gete Wami coming third in 2:25:37. Wami had to make up nine seconds after falling at a drinks station and was limping after she crossed the line.

    "I would have liked to run faster, that is why I pushed the pace, because I felt I could run under 2 hours, 24 (minutes),'' Mikitenko said.

    "But of course I'm delighted to win.''


    The race took a slight detour from its scheduled route because of a gas leak on a road just over Tower Bridge. That added two or three metres to the distance.

    It's the first time in the 27-year history of the race there has been a diversion during the race.

    Organisers said apart from the extra distance, the runners were not affected by the gas leak.

    The race started under sunny skies, but it began raining halfway through, which affected the pace.

    The male runners started strongly, and at the halfway mark the leading group had clocked 61:12 minutes, well inside world-record pace.

    Martin Lel prays after crossing the line 
    as the victor [GALLO/GETTY] 
    There were 11 men in that group, including Lel, Emmanuel Mutai, Hendrick Ramaala, Felix Limo Deriba Merga, Samuel Wanjiru, Ryan Hall and two pacemakers.

    However, the fast pace took its toll, with Ramaala, Limo and Hall dropping off at 30 kilometres, when the two pacemakers also withdrew.

    Hall ran strongly to claw back nine seconds and rejoin the group by the 35th kilometre.

    He finished fifth in 2:06:17, the third fastest time for an American.

    Khalid Khannouchi holds the two fastest times overall, 2:05:38 to take the 2002 London Marathon, which was the previous course record, and 2:05:56 to win in Chicago in the same year.

    Mikitenko's maiden title

    Mikitenko ran her first marathon in September, when she finished second to Wami in Berlin.

    She made her first move at 24 kilometres, joining a breakaway group containing Wami, Berhane Adere and Souad Ait Salem.

    They were later joined by Ludmila Petrova, Salina Kosgei and Zakharova.

    Wami and Ait Salem fell badly just before the 30-kilometre mark at Canary Wharf.

    Wami recovered to make up time and rejoin the pack as Ait Salem fell back.

    Mikitenko then pulled away at 35 kilometres, taking Wami and Zakharova with her.

    The race marked the 100th anniversary of the modern marathon distance.

    The 42.1 kilometres was first run at the 1908 London Olympics, from Windsor Castle to White City.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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