Kenya’s Robert Kwambai claimed the men’s title respectively at the 2016 Lanzhou International Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Saturday (11).
Although the organisers invited a dozen sub-2:10 runners, aiming to break the course record of 2:10:10 set by Ethiopian Abayneh Ayele in 2015, the 30-year-old Kwambai only clocked a moderate 2:13:20 in the cloudy conditions that prevailed on the day. His winning time brought him home more than five minutes shy of his personal best of 2:08:18, set when finishing fourth at last year’s Xiamen Marathon.
Kwambai hid himself patiently in the leading pack for the first 35 kilometres, hitting the 10km mark in 32:25, 15km in 48:08, 20km in 1:03:32 and 25km in 1:20:03. The leaders were trimmed to only six men when they passed 30km in 1:30:18.
After another five kilometres, Kwambai started to speed up and at that stage, he had only Workneh Tesfa for company, the winner of the 2014 Yellow River Estuary International Marathon, who holds a PB of 2:08:51 from the 2015 Marrakech Marathon.
With a series of changes of speed, Kwambai set up a sole lead after 37km, and the race as a contest was essentially over.
The former winner of the Linz and Padua Marathons, who has run faster than 2:10 every year since his debut in the classic distance in 2012, kept extending the advantage in the final five kilometres.
Maintaining his rhythm all the way to the line, he waved to the spectators along the course from time to time and pointed his fingers towards the sky before passing the finish in 2:13:20.
The 31-year-old Tesfa finished second, 34 seconds in arrears, which is the first marathon time he has registered in 2016.
Kenya’s William Yegon, who grabbed the title at the Tel Aviv Marathon in 2:10:51 back in February, clocked 2:14:37 to take third place.