Kenyan road-runners Dickson Chumba and Amos Kipruto finished first and third during the 2018 Tokyo Marathon staged during the wee hours of Sunday in the Japanese capital as female compatriots missed out on the podium.
Chumba was a comfortable winner in a star-studded field, posting a time of two hours, five minutes and 30 seconds to nail his second career victory in the Tokyo leg of Abbot World Marathon Majors Series. He beat his nearest rival, homeboy Yuta Shitara, who produced a stunning display to finish second in a new Japanese record of 2:06:11, as a fading Kipruto held on and settled for third spot in 2:06:33.
In a big blow to spectators, one of the favourites to win the men’s event, Wilson Kipsang who is a former marathon record holder, had to pull out of the race early. Kipsang later took to social media to explain why his race was botched. “I really wanted to go fast, but after suffering from stomach problems the last two days before the race, I didn’t have the power to run a decent race today. I’m disappointed, I was really ready for it” he said
The race was anyone’s to win at the 30km mark as athletes clustered together, with each one looking strong and ready to pounce in the remaining 12km. Chumba started to inject some pace into the race and the leading pack was whittle down to five.
At the 35km checkpoint, Chumba, Kipruto and Gideon Kipketer had been able to build up a small advantage to the rest of the pack with Shitara lurking close by and wildly cheered by the home crowd. Chumba started to pull away after 37km, and it was clear nobody was going to close the gap down. Several glances over his shoulder and Chumba confirmed his healthy lead with a steady pace to hit the tape and stake his claim for a place in the Majors folklore.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s Dibaba was far too strong for the rest of the field in the women’s race, as her time of 2:19:51 put her well clear of compatriot Ruti Aga and the United States’ Amy Cragg.
It was a similar story, as Dibaba used a similar tactic to Chumba, hitting the throttle hard after 37km to leave plenty of athletes trailing. Indeed, it was only Aga and Cragg who were able to live with the injection of speed.
Dibaba was relentless up front. At the 40km checkpoint, she was more than 40 seconds ahead of Aga, and the gap was widening rapidly as the finish line came into view. Former world silver medalist Helah Kipirop clocked 2:28:58 to claim fifth position in the women field.