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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Kenyan elite athletes dominated the second 42.195km ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon as Reuben Kipyego made history in men's race and Vivian Kiplagat took women's crown.
Kipyego became the first athlete in Abu Dhabi to start as a pacemaker and finish as a champion. He raced his three 10kms in 29:55, 29:47 and 28:42 - improving his timings as the marathon progressed.
"Yes, I had planned to race this way. I set pace for first 30km. I felt good. But by 25km to 35km, I felt tired. Overall, I felt comfortable. When I turned back to see that the pack was not close behind, I decided that I was going to push to the finish. For me, the conditions were ideal and the course was beautiful and I'm already looking forward to returning to Abu Dhabi to defend my title," said the 23-year-old men's champion who finished with a personal best time of 2:04:40. And what he will do with his $100,000? "I will put it in bank. I need to help my family. I have three brother and two sisters."
Kenyan Joel Kimurer followed Kipyego with a finish of 2:06:21 - his personal best too.
"I didn't expect Kipyego to charge like he did. When I realised he was sprinting it was too late for me. But I am happy with personal best time. I had best training and I knew I will do well here."
Both Kenyan athletes now hope that such results will help them make it to 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, Ethiopian athlete Fikadu Girma Teferi finished third with a time of 2:09:16. He had a tough second half to his race after clocking first half in 62:55. "After 22km the rest were fast and I couldn't match them. It got very tough."
In the women's race, Vivian Kiplagat too set her personal best with finish of 2:21:11 in her fourth marathon. "I'm very happy to set a new personal record and to win. I think that the race conditions and the course were good. I tried my best and this allowed me to run the first half in 69 minutes and continue with a fast pace for the second half."
Ethiopia's Wude Yimer Ayalew, who crossed the line in 2:24:03, said she was back from an injury and delighted with the result. "It was a difficult race. I began to tire by 35km."
It was a pleasing sight as Ethiopian debutant Yeshi Chekole Kalaya was third with a time of 2:24:28.
Also, Ethiopians Teresa Nyakola Gela and Sintayehu Tilahun Getahun won the male and female 10k race. The elite wheelchair category was won by Emirati Ayed Al Ahbabi followed by fellow Husain Al Mazam and Ali Al Saadi.
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