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Kipruto, Kebede win Tokyo Marathon in course record times

Benson Kipruto of Kenya crosses the finish line to win the men’s race during the Tokyo Marathon 2024 in Tokyo on March 3, 2024.
| Photo Credit: AP

Kenyan Benson Kipruto won the men’s Tokyo Marathon in two hours, two minutes and 16 seconds on Sunday, breaking former world record holder Eliud Kipchoge’s course mark in perfect racing conditions on the streets of the Japanese capital.

Ethiopia’s Sutume Asefa Kebede won the women’s race ahead of Kenya’s defending champion Rosemary Wanjiru in 2:15:55, also bettering the best previous women’s time over the course from Shinjuku to the Imperial Palace.

Kipruto pulled clear of Timothy Kiplagat over the last few kilometres and finished 39 seconds ahead of his compatriot to add the Tokyo title to those he won in Boston in 2021 and Chicago in 2022.

The 32-year-old’s time was almost two minutes better than his previous personal best and made him the fifth-fastest marathon runner of all time in events approved by World Athletics.

“I am so happy to get the course record,” Kipruto told reporters.

“I think I’m ready for the Paris Olympics, I would be happy to represent my country in Paris but that relies on my country for selection. I’m still waiting on that, but I’m ready.”

Kiplagat had to be convinced not to pull out of the race by his coach after the death of his training partner, marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum, in a road accident last month.

Vincent Kipkemoi Ngetich finished third in 2:04:18 to give Kenya a podium sweep, with Ethiopians Hailemaryam Kiros and Tsegaye Getachew in fourth and fifth places.

Kipchoge was struggling at halfway with the pace under the course record time of 2:02:40 he had set in 2022, and the double Olympic champion had slipped two minutes behind the leaders by the 30-km mark. He finished 10th.

Kebede and Wanjiru had been in the leading group throughout the women’s race, but at the 37km mark the Ethiopian upped her pace to pull clear of her rivals and claim her first major marathon title by 19 seconds.

Her time bettered Brigid Kosgei’s 2022 women’s course record of 2:16:02 and took more than two minutes off her previous personal best time of 2:18:12.

“I’m truly happy,” the 29-year-old said. “It was a very tactical race. Everything went well and the result was better than I expected.

“I ran a good time in a major race and I hope the Ethiopian Athletics Federation will select me for the Paris Olympics. I would like to win (gold) and break the Olympic record.”

Kebede’s compatriot Amane Beriso was third in 2:16:58, more than a minute clear of Dutch Olympic long distance track champion Sifan Hassan in fourth place.

Ichitaka Yamashita was the fastest Japanese man in a time of 2:06:31 to finish ninth, while Hitomi Niiya took the local honours in the women’s race with a sixth-placed finish in 2:21:50.

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