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Morocco’s Mohammed Ziani and Tigist Girma of Ethiopia beat the rain and cold weather to take top honours at the Guangzhou Marathon

The 25-year-old Mohammed Ziani emerged victorious from a four-man battle to claim his first marathon title clocking 2:10:44, 43 seconds shy of the course record set by compatriot Abdellah Tagharrafet in 2015.

It was the third marathon for Ziani, who clocked 2:13:40 to finish fifth in Guangzhou last year. The race began in rainy and cold conditions with the temperature of about 45F degrees.

A leading group of six, including two pace-setters, brought the field through 10km in 30:28 and 20km in 1:00:57. The pacers stepped off the course at 25km and 30km respectively.

The other four leaders, including Ziani, Tsegay Tuemay of Eritrea as well as Ethiopian duo Gadisa Shumie and Balew Derseh, remained together until they passed 40km in 2:03:59.

After a series of unsuccessful mini-breaks in the following kilometers, the quartet were still shoulder-to-shoulder until they reached the final kilometer.  

Tuemay was the first to fade away while Ziani broke away to build a lead of several meters.  Shumie sped up in the last 10 meters but his effort were in vain as he clocked the same time as Ziani did but had to settle for second.

The 20-year-old Derseh finished third in 2:10:53 in his marathon debut. Flomena Cheyech of Kenya, the fastest entrant in the women’s race, stayed in the leading pack in the early stages but quit the title contest after 15km.

The race was then dominated by two Ethiopians, Girma and Zinash Debebe, who led together from 15km to 35km, before Girma pulled away to notch the convincing 2:26:44 victory.

The 25-year-old Girma improved her personal best by 2:16 but her winning mark is still shy of the 2:25:12 course record set by fellow Ethiopian Rahma Tusa last year.

(12/10/2018) ⚡AMP
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