Pak Chol rests after winning the 2017 Pyongyang Marathon (© AFP)
Local stars Pak Chol and Jo Un Ok prevailed at the the 28th Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, in Pyongyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, on Sunday (9).
In a largely solo effort, Chol clocked 2:14:56 to win the event for the third time. The 26-year-old, who finished 11th at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 marathon and has a 2:12:26 lifetime best, was already a full minute ahead of the field at the midway point.
Youssef Sbaai of Morocco, the winner of the Turin Marathon last year, was a distant second in 2:16:19, nearly a minute clear of Ri Bok Ryol of the DPRK, who clocked 2:17:14. Ri Kang Bom, another local runner, was fourth, clocking 2:18:59.
In the women's race, Ok ran the first half in fairly conservative fashion before pulling away in the latter stages en route to a 2:29:22 performance to improve her lifetime best by 36 seconds. It was her first marathon victory after finishing fifth and third in this race in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Ayantu Dakebu of Ethiopia was second in 2:30:06, also a lifetime best for the 30-year-old, whose previous PB was 2:33:59 from her victory at the 2014 Reims Marathon.
Kim Hye Kyong, the 2013 winner, built a lead of nearly 50 seconds at the half, but later dropped back and finished a distant third in 2:31:49.
Ri Kwang Ok, who ran with Ok and Ayantu through the midway point, faded in the latter stages to finish fourth in 2:33:27.
Neither of the event records were under threat this year. The men's race record of 2:10:50 was set by local runner Jung-Won Kim in 1996. The women's record, set by Yong-Ok Jong, also from the DPRK, stands at 2:26:02, set in 2007.
This year the course reverts to its out and back format from recent years, starting and ending before a crowd of more than 50,000 spectators expected to turn out at the Kim Il Sung stadium in the center of Pyongyang. In between, it passes some of the city's iconic features, including Kim Il Sung Square, the Arch of Triumph and the Grand Theatre.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF