(IAAF)―Ethiopian pair of Dejene Kelkilew and Tejitu Siyum claimed the title at the 10th edition of the Marathon des Alpes Maritimes, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, in southern France on Sunday (Nov. 5).
With the exception of the initial kilometers on the “Promenade des Anglais” in Nice, runners had to cope with a strong headwind –and some light rain– en route to the finish line in the coastal city of Cannes.
In the men’s race, a group of seven — Dejene Kelkilew, Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi, Kenyans Alfred Kering, Alex Bartilol and Daniel Yator and Azmeraw Mengistu of Ethiopia– hit the first 10-kilometre checkpoint in 30:48, suggesting a possible finish time of exactly 2:10:00.
Spearheaded by Ethiopia’s Cosmas Birech –who replaced Cornelius Kangago as main pace setter– the leading group slowed slightly, reaching the halfway point in 1:05:20. There were still six men in contention for the victory as Azmeraw Mengistu started to struggle with the pace.
While the second part of the race is tougher than the first, Kelkilew, Kering and Bartilol were still together at 30 kilometers, along with Birech who was still setting the pace.
With four kilometers to go, Dejene Kelkilew made his first move and Alex Bartilol dropped back.
The trio hit 40 kilometers in 2:05:12, seven seconds ahead of Bartilol. A few meters later Dejene made his second effort and built a small gap over Birech and Kering. He then managed to hold his lead to break the tape in 2:12:09, ten seconds ahead of Birech, who achieved a strong performance as he set the pace almost from the start.
Dejene notched his second career win over the distance following a success in Reims in 2015 in a PB of 2:11:21.
Kering, who was the fastest man of the field courtesy of a best mark of 2:07:10, rounded out the podium in 2:12:30, 21 seconds adrift of the winner while his compatriot Bartilol finished fourth in 2:12:46.
Kawauchi faded 24 kilometers into the race and covered the final 17 kilometers alone, crossing the line in 2:15:02 in what was his ninth marathon in 2017.
“I didn’t feel fresh,” said Kawauch, who was ninth at the IAAF World Championships in London, commenting on his debut on the French roads.
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