Ukrainian distance runner Serhiy Lebid (© Getty Images)
For the first time ever at the Nagano Olympic Commemorative Marathon, both races were won by European athletes as nine-time European cross-country champion Serhiy Lebid of Ukraine won the men’s race and Russia’s Alina Prokopeva smashed her PB to take the women’s title at the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race on Sunday (20).
It was third time lucky for Lebid and Prokopeva, as both recorded their first marathon victories in what was their third race over the classic distance. Both of their performances were also the third-slowest winning times in the 15-year history of the race.
Lebid – who failed to finish his first marathon last year in Warsaw – won here in 2:13:56, two-and-a-half minutes short of the 2:11:24 PB he set in Lisbon last October.
Double World University Games silver medallist Prokopeva finally mastered the 26.2-mile distance after two third-place finishes in Singapore over the past two years. She took almost eight minutes off the PB she set two years ago, winning in 2:30:56.
The men’s race turned into a duel between Sergey Lebid and Mongolian record-holder Ser-Od Bat-Ochir after 30km, reached in 1:35:42. Their duel continued through 35km (1:51:45) and then the next 5km section was covered in 15:16 before Lebid surged ahead to win by eight seconds.
Bat-Ochir, who finished second in 2:14:04, now lives in Japan and runs for the corporate-sponsored track team NTN in Kuwana, Mie Prefecture, home of two-time Boston Marathon champion Toshihiko Seko.
The 2010 Nagano Marathon champion Nicholas Chelimo of Kenya fell off the pace after 30km, and finished a disappointing 10th in 2:18:17, while Silas Sang of Kenya, who was second in 2012, fell off the pace just before 25km and eventually finished with 2:22:07.
Marathon debutante Martin Waweru of Kenya dropped away from the lead pack before 15km and eventually pulled out of the race after 25km. The first Japanese finisher was Taiga Ito who was third in 2:15:20.
In the women’s race, a five-woman lead pack formed before 5km, reached in 17:40, but after going through the 10km point in 35:05, the race turned into a duel between Alina Prokopeva and Rika Shintaku.
The duel continued through 15km (52:38), 20km (1:10:32), half way (1:14:30) and 25km (1:28:56), but then Shintaku fell behind and the race was over. When she went through the 30km mark in 1:46:55, Prokopeva was nearly one minute ahead of Shintaku.
With each step, Prokopeva pulled further and further ahead of her opponents and at the end she was more than five minutes ahead of Shintaku, who finished second in 2:36:02. She was followed by Shoko Shimizu who finished third in 2:37:21.
Former Commonwealth silver medallist Hellen Cherono of Kenya was sixth in 2:42:02, while Lauren Shelley of Australia was ninth in 2:47:50. Eritrean record-holder Nebiat Habtemariam did not start the race.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
1 Sergey Lebid (UKR) 2:13:56
2 Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (MGL) 2:14:04
3 Taiga Ito (JPN) 2:15:20
4 Ryoichi Matsuo (JPN) 2:15:50
5 Sho Matsumoto (JPN) 2:16:36
6 Shungo Kawamura (JPN) 2:17:05
7 Hiroki Tanaka (JPN) 2:17:17
8 Takuya Iwasaki (JPN) 2:17:31
9 Yoshihiro Yamamoto (JPN) 2:17:54
10 Nicholas Chelimo (KEN) 2:18:17
1 Alina Prokopeva (RUS) 2:30:56
2 Rika Shintaku (JPN) 2:36:02
3 Shoko Shimizu (JPN) 2:37:21
4 Risa Takemura (JPN) 2:37:43
5 Yumiko Kinoshita (JPN) 2:39:38
6 Hellen Cherono (KEN) 2:42:02
7 Kiyoko Shimahara (JPN) 2:43:19
8 Seika Iwamura (JPN) 2:43:19
9 Lauren Shelly (AUS) 2:47:50