All was not quiet on the Western front yesterday where, leagues under the harbour, the outcome of the 2003 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon was decided. It was there Zimbabwe's Tendai Chimusasa stamped his authority by making the move which won him the men's laurel. 'After being told to bide my time for most of the race, I was finally told to make my move inside the tunnel where I overtook the Russian runner who was leading. But even in front, I did not think I would win. I thought my colleague would be the winner,' said an unbelieving Chimusasa, reliving his marathon epic which took two hours, 18 minutes and 12 seconds to complete in hot and humid conditions. Harare-born Chimusasa, one among the record field of 18,682 runners who took part in all three races - the marathon, half-marathon and 10km race - paid tribute to countryman and second-placed Elijah Mutandiro as the person who paved the way for his victory on his SAR debut. 'I have to thank him for winning. He was the person who had the experience of running in Hong Kong and I benefited from that. Even when I went into the lead, I thought he would win because of his experience. But today was my day,' said Chimusasa. Mutandiro had to once again be satisfied with wearing the bridesmaid's tag. Last year, he finished third. In 2001, his first year in Hong Kong, Mutandiro came second. 'I was tired at the end. But I'm glad that I helped my countryman to win,' said Mutandiro, who came in eight seconds behind Chimusasa. Trailing in third was last year's champion, Benjamin Matolo, who finished with a time of 2:19:17. 'He [Chimusasa] ran a clever race. He stayed with me all the way. I was looking at the danger posed by Elijah and not concentrating on him. But I'm not disappointed,' said the Kenyan. The women's marathon was won by fast rising Chinese teenager Sun Weiwei. The protege of controversial Chinese coach Ma Junren recorded 2:38:55. In second place was Poland's Violetta Uryga in 2:39:52 while Natalya Galushko of Belarus was third in 2:41:15. For Russian Andreyev Pavel it was a bitter pill to swallow. Attempting to become the first runner to break the African stranglehold on the Hong Kong Marathon, Pavel naively decided that the best strategy would be to lead from the front. For 39km he led, but then he hit the wall as the Africans - the two Zimbabweans, Matolo and another Kenyan, Kennedy Momanyi - who had been on his heels, ganged up and passed him inside the Western Harbour Crossing. 'It was very difficult,' Pavel gasped afterwards. 'I led for 39km and I think this was a tactical mistake. I would have been better off if I had run with the second group. It was hot and humid and as I was coming from a very cold Russian winter, it was difficult to keep my pace.' With Pavel setting the pace obligingly, the canny Africans bided their time. And among them was Chimusasa, 32, straining at the tight leash maintained by Mutandiro. 'At one time I wanted to give up. The Russian was about 500 metres in front and I thought it was all over. But then I thought I might be mistaken as the winner from last year was not making any effort to catch him and was in my group,' related Chimusasa. 'At the halfway mark I was in 10th position and at the 30km mark I was still 200 metres behind the Russian. I asked my colleague 'should we catch him?' but he said 'don't worry there is still a tunnel and hill to go'. With 7km to go, the Kenyans started pushing harder and I nearly gave up then. I somehow managed to hang on and I found myself in fourth place,' said Chimusasa. Inside the Western Harbour tunnel, the four Africans finally caught Pavel. With the heat oppressively high and a massive change from the minus 25 degrees celsius conditions back home in St Petersburg, Pavel found his legs were not listening to his brain and he ended up finishing fourth. 'I overtook the Russian and then suddenly the winner from last year and the other Kenyan also fell back. We were on our own. I told my colleague 'let's go for it'. I made my move in the last kilometre but even at this stage I thought my countryman would win as he was the runner who had experience of taking part on this route,' said Chimusasa. But unknown to Chimusasa, the heat and humidity were also having a telling effect on Mutandiro. Not even all the 42,000 bananas or the 30,000 bars of chocolates organisers had in hand for the runners yesterday would have fuelled Mutandiro past Chimusasa. With the finish line in his sight, Chimusasa found he was truly on his own. A ninth-place finisher at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, it at last dawned on Chimusasa that he could win the race. 'I was not highlighted as one of the genuine contenders for the title. Even I did not believe I could do it. But suddenly I was thinking 'I'm the winner',' said the delighted champion who received a purse of US$20,000 for belatedly discovering that sometimes experience is not all that counts.