Ethiopia's Feyisa Lilesa won his first major race on Sunday as he claimed top spot at the 2016 Tokyo Marathon, while Kenya's Helah Kiprop set a new course record to win the women's race.
There were clear skies in Tokyo as Lilesa broke the tape ahead of the field with an impressive time of two hours, six minutes and 56 seconds. Abbott WMMajors captured the moment:
LetsRun.com shared the top men's results on Twitter:
On the 10th anniversary of the race, Kiprop smashed the women's course record by almost a minute and her personal best by two-and-a-half as she covered the 26.2-mile course in an official time of 2:21:27:
The Kenyan beat Ethiopia's Amane Gobena and compatriot Edna Kiplagat to the title—made even more impressive because the former's time of 2:21:51 would also have been a course record.
The Tokyo Marathon Foundation shared Kiprop's reaction to her victory via their official Facebook page:
I did not know if I can win this race until I actually cross the finish line. Last year I was second with the personal best [2:24:04]. So this year’s goal was to set another personal best. I was surprised to run even faster to set a course record [old course record 2:23:23]. Compare to the last year weather was nice. Although it was windy at some area, overall the wind was not a problem.
Back on the men's side, 2014 Tokyo winner and 2015 Chicago Marathon champion Dickson Chumba dogged Lilesa throughout the race. In the final six miles, the pair separated from the seven-strong group that had led the race thus far—which also contained the likes of Emmanuel Mutai, Eliud Kiptanui and surprisingly local runner Kenta Murayama—with each taking turns to edge ahead.
Chumba was unable to sustain the effort, though, and he faded away significantly in the last mile as Lilesa strode home to victory.
Indeed, fellow Kenyan Bernard Kipyego eventually caught Chumba, and Kipyego pipped him to the line with a time of 2:07:33—Chumba coming in just one second behind. Abbott WMMajors captured the dramatic moment:
Per the Tokyo Marathon Foundation, Lilesa said he hoped the win would take him to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro:
It was a tough course, but I am happy to win. Since my training went well, I knew I can come up with good results. Chumba was running fast from 30 to 35km [14:31] but I knew I have to stay with him. Somehow after 40km Chumba was not able to keep up with pace and thus I went to the lead. I feel like I have just bought a ticket to Rio.
Such is the strength of Ethiopia's talent pool—even his win here may not be enough to secure him a place in their team. In winning the major and beating as strong a runner as Chumba, though, he has put himself firmly in consideration for the event.
Australian Kurt Fearnley emerged victorious in the men's wheelchair race. He beat Ernst van Dyk by one second in a dramatic sprint finish:
Fearnley shared his delight at the result on Twitter:
Wakako Tsuchida claimed the women's race for the ninth successive year thanks to a time of 1:41:04.
More than 36,000 competitors took to the streets of Japan's capital to take part in the event.