Kenya's Dickson Chumba and Ethiopa's Birhane Dibaba raced to victory on Sunday in the Tokyo marathon.
Chumba was a comfortable winner in the end in the men's event, as he posted a time of two hours, five minutes and 30 seconds. His nearest rival proved to be Japan's Yuta Shitara, who produced a stunning display to finish second, while Chumba's compatriot Amos Kipruto was third.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia's Dibaba was far too strong for the rest of the field in the women's race, as her time of 2:19:51 put her well clear of compatriot Ruti Aga and the United States' Amy Cragg.
Here are the top three finishers from both races and a recap of what is frequently one of the most entertaining marathon races on the planet.
1. Dickson Chumba (KEN)—2:05:30
2. Yuta Shitara (JPN)—2:06:11
3. Amos Kipruto (KEN)—2:06:33
1. Birhane Dibaba (ETH)—2:19:51
2. Ruti Aga (ETH)—2:21:19
3. Amy Cragg (USA)—2:21:42
For the results in full, visit the Tokyo marathon website.
In a big blow to spectators, one of the favourites to win the men's event, Wilson Kipsang, had to pull out of this one early. The man himself explained why on social media afterwards:
Things were tight after 30 kilometres, before Chumba started to inject some pace into the race and whittle down the field.
It meant that by the time the competitors reached the 35-kilometre checkpoint, Chumba, Kipruto and Gideon Kipketer had been able to build up a small advantage to the rest of the pack, although the eventual winner evidently had more gears to go through.
He started to pull away after 37 kilometres, and it was clear nobody was going to close the gap down to the Kenyan. Meanwhile, further back, Shitara was making his way through and, as noted by professional runner Stephanie Bruce, feeding off the home support:
Indeed, he was eventually able to pull clear in second place and set a new Japanese record in front of the raucous Tokyo fans.
As noted by running writer Jonathan Gault, it was a race to remember for Shitara for a number of different reasons:
Jonathan Gault @jgault13
Yuta Shitara just accomplished the following: -Ran a Japanese marathon record of 2:06:10 -Finished 2nd in the Tokyo Marathon (highest finish ever by a Japanese man at a World Marathon Major) -Won 100 million yen for setting the NR. That's $936,000!!! https://t.co/2Ew7PtUUde https://t.co/7Pn8bxunDt
In the women's race, it was a similar story, as Dibaba used a similar tactic to Chumba, hitting the throttle hard after 37 kilometres to leave plenty of athletes trailing. Indeed, it was only Aga and Cragg who were able to live with the injection of speed.
Dibaba was relentless up front. At the 40-kilometre checkpoint, she was more than 40 seconds ahead of Aga, and the gap was widening rapidly as the finish line came into view. The Abbott WMMajors Twitter account captured the moment she crossed the finish line:
Further back, Aga was able to complete a 1-2 finish for Ethiopa, while Cragg would have also been delighted with her performance to come third, per journalist David Monti:
The time was a massive improvement on Cragg's best. As noted by Cross Country Probs, she took more than five minutes off her personal record and in doing so became the fifth fastest United States marathon runner in history.