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Kenyan Kalalei triumphs in Athens Marathon

Samuel Kalalei of Kenya runs to win the 35th Athens Marathon at the Panathenaic stadium in Athens on November 12, 2017 © AFP / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI

ATHENS, Greece, Nov 12Samuel Kalalei won the 35th Athens Classic Marathon on Sunday as Kenyan runners dominated the gruelling, largely uphill course by sweeping the top five places in the men’s race.

The 23-year-old crossed the line in two hours, 12 minutes and 17 seconds, ahead of Milton Kiplagat Rotich, who clocked 2:14.18, with Jonathan Kiptoo Yego in third at 2:16.08.

The women’s race was won by 18-year-old Ethiopian Bedaru Hirpa Badane in a time of 2:34.18.

Around 18,500 runners from dozens of countries took part in the authentic marathon which began near the tumulus erected for the Greek dead from the Battle of Marathon.

Another 30,000 participated in the shorter 5km and 10km races in downtown Athens.

According to legend, the 42km route from Marathon to Athens was first run by Pheidippides, an Athenian messenger who in 490 BC dashed to the city to announce victory over the Persians, before dying of exhaustion.

Run on a four-lane concrete avenue through the urban districts of east Athens with a finish at the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium, the site of the 1896 Olympics, the race is a challenge for runners as much of it is uphill.

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