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Kenyan Evans Chebet victorious in Lake Biwa Marathon

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Kenyan Evans Chebet victorious in Lake Biwa Marathon - Sports Leo

Less than six months after his triumph in Buenos Aires, Kenyan Evans Chebet put together back-to-back marathon victories when winning at the Lake Biwa Marathon, North of Kyoto, on Sunday, clocking 2:07:29 at the World Athletics Gold Label road race.

The 31-year-old made his break just before the 36-kilometre point and went on to win by 36 seconds.

The race also doubled as the final Olympic qualifying opportunity for Japanese men – provided they could break the national record of 2:05:29 – but the wet and windy conditions were not conducive to fast times, so no changes were made to the host nation’s provisional marathon line-up for Tokyo 2020.

After a slower-than-expected opening 5km of 15:21, the pace then started to pick up and the leaders passed 10km in 30:19. Defending champion Salah Bounasr and 2018 Boston Marathon champion Yuki Kawauchi started to drift back after 10km. After covering 15km in 45:09 and 20km in 1:00:12, about 28 runners passed the halfway point in 1:03:32.

Ugandan record-holder Felix Chemonges drifted in and out the lead pack between 24 and 31 kilometres. Chebet, Felix Kiprotich and Stephen Mokoka then picked up the pace and formed a lead trio. Behind them, Japan’s Naoya Sakuda and Shoya Okuno broke away from the chase pack to move into fourth and fifth.

After the leaders passed 35km in 1:45:43, Chebet covered the next kilometre in 2:57 to break away from his last two opponents. He covered the final 6.5km alone and went on to win in 2:07:29.

“Today I ran 2:07 but it was not an easy race because of the rain and wind,” said Chebet, who set a PB of 2:05:00 when winning in Buenos Aires last year. “I want to come back to run again next year.”

Mokoka, who was third last year, finished second this time in 2:08:05 while Kiprotich was further behind in third with 2:08:48.

As was the case at last week’s Tokyo Marathon, several unheralded Japanese runners made big improvements while many of the top invited domestic runners didn’t fare well. Fourth-place finisher Sakuda, the first Japanese across the line, clocked 2:08:50 to take two-and-a-half minutes off his PB. Marathon debutant Shoma Yamamoto finished fifth in 2:09:18, while Okuno took 10 minutes off his PB with 2:09:28 in seventh place.

In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo

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