FUKUOKA, Japan (AFP) — Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia has won the Fukuoka international men's marathon, setting a personal best time as well as a new record.
The 21-year-old Ethiopian picked up the pace and never looked back after Kenya's John Wales abandoned at the 30-kilometre mark, crossing the finishing line in two hours, six minutes and 10 seconds.
That improved upon his previous personal best of 2:06:40 set in winning the Paris marathon this season, and was faster than the previous meet record of 2:06:39 set by Beijing Olympic champion Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya last year.
"I'm really happy. I did much better than I had expected to do," said Kebede. "I'm also happy that I set my personal best by 30 seconds."
The group of eight front-runners was reduced to five before the 30km point -- Kebede, Kales, and Japanese rivals Satoshi Irifune, Tomoyuki Sato and Yuko Matsumiya.
The real competition started soon after Kales abandoned the race and eventually Irifune survived the Japanese battle to finish second in 2:09:23.
Irifune earned a place in the world championships in Berlin next year as the top Japanese finisher.
Arata Fujiwara of Japan was third in 2:09:47, followed by Sato in 2:09:59 and Felix Limo of Kenya in 2:10:59.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »