Lel, Zhou win; US runner sets mark
LONDON -- Martin Lel won the men's race at the London Marathon yesterday by outsprinting three others to the finish, and Zhou Chunxiu became the first Chinese winner by taking the women's title.
Lel, a Kenyan who also won the London race in 2005, finished in 2 hours 7 minutes 41 seconds.
Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco finished second in his marathon debut in 2:07:44, and last year's champion, Felix Limo of Kenya, was third in 2:07:47. Lel lost to Limo in a sprint finish last year.
"It was one of the most tactical races I have run," Lel said. "There were several champions running, so I am proud. I corrected the mistakes from last year and I had to be careful to preserve my energy, but it was an interesting race."
Haile Gebrselassie, one of the greatest distance runners of all time, withdrew after 19 miles.
The main pack for much of the race also included world record-holder Paul Tergat, former winner Khalid Khannouchi, Olympic gold medalist Stefano Baldini, and two-time world champion Jaouad Gharib.
Ryan Hall, a 24-year-old American making his marathon debut, joined the leaders and was the first man past the 21 3/4-mile mark. But he fell back soon after, and finished seventh in 2:08:24 for the fastest time by an American in a marathon debut.
"I dreamed about being with those guys for 23 miles and I did that today and I took my swing," Hall said. "Hopefully, I'll be a bit stronger next time and run a bit smarter."
Zhou broke away with about 3 miles to go in the women's race, leaving Gete Wami and Lornah Kiplagat behind before sprinting up the final straight on The Mall to win in 2:20:38. Wami was second in 2:21:45 and Constantina Tomescu-Dita was third in 2:23:55.
"My winning today shows that my training has done great work," said Zhou, the first Chinese runner to win one of the World Marathon Majors (London, New York, Boston, Chicago, and Berlin).