Kenyan Rono storms to women's record

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 February, 2011, 12:00am

Samira Ralf's marathon ended with the Moroccan lying in a heap yards over the Victoria Park finish line, but her valiant effort was in vain as Kenya's Janet Rono produced the best time yet by a woman in Hong Kong to claim the title yesterday.

Taking advantage of ideal running conditions following cooling overnight rain, 22-year-old Rono completed the arduous course in two hours, 33 minutes and 42 seconds - a second quicker than Kyrgyzstan's Irina Bogachova posted in 2001 - to deny a visibly exhausted Ralf.

The Moroccan was carried away from the finish line on a stretcher after also posting a personal best of 2:33:51, with Ethiopia's Yeshimebet Bifa finishing third in 2:34:14.

'I am very surprised to win,' Rono said. 'It was very good and my best time in a marathon. The weather was a little bit cold, but not too hot.'

Completing a Kenyan double after compatriot Nelson Rotich won the men's event, Rono claimed the winner's cheque of US$34,000 plus a bonus of US$2,000 for breaking the 2:34:00 mark.

'The most challenging aspect was the course. The course was very hilly and very tough, but it is my best finish,' Rono said.

'I just tried to push. I didn't know that I would achieve my best time, but the weather was not too hot. We pushed as a group, not just one person, and that helped us finish the race.'

Ralf, who devotes around 24 hours a week to training alongside her full-time job as a teacher, was able to recover in time to limp to the podium to collect her runner-up trophy. 'I was very tired because the course is very difficult,' she said. 'It is my best time and I hope to improve.

'Because of the layout of the course and the hills, it is a very tactical race. My goal was to get on the podium and maybe even win so I am happy with the result.'