OTSU, Japan, March 1 – Paul Tergat defeated two-time champion Jose Rios of Spain in the last 1.5 kilometres to win the Lake Biwa marathon with a time of two hours 10 minutes 22 seconds.It was the first race of the year for Tergat, who holds the all-time second fastest time in the world of 2:04:55.
"This is my first race in the year and to be able to come all the way from Kenya. I was very tired from the jet lag. I’ve known it was a good competition, but there was a lot of wind throughout," said Tergat, 39.
"It was a close competition … I’m happy, I’m excited. I hope I will be back to run in a good time," he added.
A top group of some 24 runners was reduced to nine when three pace-makers — Isaac Macharia and Nicholas Chelimo, and Cutbert Nyasango of Zimbabwe — abandoned the race at the 30km mark.
Abderrahime Bouramdane of Morocco also gave up shortly afterwards, leaving the competition to Tergat, Rios, Yared Asmerom of Eritrea, Abiyot Guta of Ethiopia and Japan’s Masaya Shimizu.
Rios moved up the pace after passing the 39km point, but Tergat trailed him a step behind and went into top gear after the 41km mark. Tergat never faced a serious challenge afterwards as he steadily outdistancing Rios.
Rios finished second in 2:10:36, followed by Asmerom third in 2:10:49.
Shimizu came in fourth in 2:10:50 and qualified for the world championships later this year in Berlin as the top Japanese runner.
"I’m happy that I qualified for the world championships, but I’m happier that I wasn’t beaten by my younger brother," Shimizu said of Tomoya Shimizu, who was the second fastest Japanese at sixth place in 2:12:30.