Ethiopia’s legendary runner Kenenisa Bekele notched up another impressive milestone in an already glittering career by winning the Paris Marathon on Sunday, his first attempt at the gruelling event.
The 31-year-old 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder crossed the line in an event record time of 2 hours 5 minutes 4 seconds after negotiating a sunbathed course through the streets of the French capital.
The previous Paris record was held by Kenya’s Stanley Wiwott who clocked 2hr 05:10 in 2012.
Fellow Ethiopian Limenih Getachew came home second at 2hr 06:49 with Luka Kanda of Kenya, the 2012 Rome winner, claiming the final spot on the podium crossing the line in 2hr 08:02.
“It was my first marathon and I didn’t have much experience,” said Bekele, the triple Olympic champion.
“It was very tough but it was the time I expected. After 25km I pushed alone but it was very tough.
“Now, I know the marathon, I can run faster than that but I have to prepare even more. I’m sure I can run a better time than that. I still have time in my career to do better but I am satisfied.”
Bekele emulated his great compatriot Haile Gebrselassie who also made a successful step from the track to marathon and has the third fastest time in history.
Bekele made his move with about 25km to run and opened up a lead that may have been even more significant had he not struggled with what appeared to be a hamstring problem.
“The hamstring wasn’t good after 25km. It was cramping but it’s OK. I’ll feel it more in the morning,” said Bekele.
He missed out on the world’s best time which is held by Kenyan Wilson Kipsang who set a mark of 2hr 03:23 last year in Berlin.
In the women’s race, Kenya’s Flomena Cheyech dominated proceedings, winning in a time of 2hr 22:44 as she turned in a confident showing with Ethiopia’s Yebrgual Melese second at 2hr 26:21.
A second Ethiopian, Ahmed Zemzem claimed third spot in 2hr 29:35.
“I’m very happy, the course was good,” said a delighted Cheyech.
“I wasn’t that fast but in the middle of the race, I felt confident and just told myself to keep running.”