NAIROBI, November 3 – Three time London marathon champion Martin Lel is Sh40 million richer after winning the 2007-2008 World Marathon Majors Series (WMM).
The 29 year old finished top of the log with 76 points to become the second Kenyan to win the series after close friend and compatriot Robert Mwafrika Cheruiyot who won the inaugural series last year.
Lel started the series by winning the 2007 London marathon to garner 25 points in April last year and followed it with another 25 after triumphing in New York in November 2007.
He made it three out of three with another win in London in April this year.
A fifth place finish at the Olympics in Beijing in august added one point to his haul giving him the crown.
Lel missed out on Sunday’s New York marathon with a broken foot.
Last year’s series winner Cheruiyot ended this year’s challenge joint second with
Morocco’s Abderrahim Goumri who was second in Sunday’s Big Apple race on 55 points.
World record holder Haile Gebrselassie was fourth on 50 points –ten points ahead of Olympic champion Samuel Kamau Wanjiru who collated 40 points.
Other Kenyans in the top ten include Evans Cheruiyot, James Kwambai, World champion Luke Kibet and Patrick Ivuti.
In the women’s category, Germany’s Irina Mikitenko won the top prize.
For the second consecutive year, the women’s title went down to the wire with Gete Wami and Mikitenko still in the running.
Two women could have clinched the WMM title by a strong showing in the ING New York City Marathon this morning: Gete Wami (65 points) and Catherine Ndereba (41 points). Not entered in New York, but also in contention, was Irina Mikitenko (65 points).
Wami’s failure to any points in New York where she finished sixth cost her a second consecutive win as they remained tied at the top with Mikitenko on 65 points each.
Under the rules of the WMM Series, the first tie-breaker is head-to-head competition but as the two athletes had beaten each other once, the champion was determined by a vote taken by the five race directors of the World Marathon Majors who declared Mikitenko the series winner.
In reaching this decision, the race directors took into account the fact that Irina had achieved her points in fewer races and her average times across her scoring race were lower than Wami’s.
Catherine Ndereba was the highest ranked Kenyan in sixth place with 41 points while Rita jeptoo was 12th.
The World Marathon Majors is a series consisting of five of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world: Boston Marathon, London Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Chicago Marathon and New York City Marathon.
At the conclusion of each two-year series, a $1 million prize purse will be split equally between the top male and female point earners. The $1 million prize will be awarded annually meaning that each two-year series will overlap.
The total score for each athlete in a series will consist of points earned from a maximum of four Qualifying Races during that two-year cycle. To be eligible for the jackpot, an athlete must compete in a minimum of one Qualifying Race during each year of the series.