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Sizzling Cheromei blazes Yokohama route record

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YOKOHAMA, Japan, November 18- Dominant Lydia Cheromei outpaced the field over the last 27 kms to secure a comfortable win in the Yokohama International women’s marathon on Sunday in a sparkling course record of 2:23:07.

The veteran who was a probable for the Kenyan London Olympics women marathon team overtook the pace-setters after passing the 14 km mark and never faced a serious challenge afterwards, crossing the finishing line in a time that was two minutes shy of an age group record for 35-year-olds.

Other runners were forced to compete for the runner-up slot far behind Cheromei who won in nearly a 50-second improvement on the previous course record of this IAAF Silver Label Road Race of 2:23:56 set last year Yoshimi Ozaki, the 2009 World Championships Marathon silver medallist.

“I am very happy to win the Yokohama marathon, the race was tough but I managed to win,” said Cheromei whose top five Marathon average is now a respectable 2:23:14 told the IAAF.

Kimberley Smith of New Zealand, Marisa Barros of Portugal and Japan’s Mai Ito and Mizuho Nasukawa remained in contention when the last pace-setter, Maria Konovalova of Russia, dropped out of the race at the 24 km point.

Nasukawa took the lead after passing the 40 km mark and held on to finish second in 2:26:42, although she failed to qualify for the world championships next year.

Barros came in third in 2:26:51, followed by Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia in 2:26:55.

Ito was fifth on 2:27:06 and Smith sixth on 2:27:35. Pre-race favourite Yukiko Akaba of Japan slowed down after passing the 23 km mark to finish eighth in 2:31:43.

A fifth finish at the Stanchart Dubai Marathon in January saw Cheromei, who had finished second at the same event last year, being not considered in the final three for London Olympics in the summer.

She was however, selected to don the national strip at the World Half Marathon in Kavarna, Bulgaria in October where she finished just outside the medals in fourth.

The super charged Yokohama winner passed 30Km in 1:41:19,by then more than a minute and half ahead of Smith, Ito and Nasukawa. As Cheromei passed 35Km in 1:58:13, Barros rejoined the chasers.

Ito was the first to surge in her attempt to break away but was unable to shake the pack. Barros also tried to break away but without success. Then it was Nasukawa’s turn to surge.

Barros and Ito stayed close but Smith was left behind. Then just before 40Km Nasukawa surged again to leave her competition behind and finish second.

-Compiled from AFP and the IAAF

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