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Legese beats Karoki to Tokyo marathon title

Birhanu Legese of Ethiopia crosses the finish line to win the Tokyo Marathon © AFP / Kazuhiro NOGI

TOKYO, Japan, Mar 3Ethiopia completed a double in the Tokyo Marathon Sunday as Birhanu Legese won the men’s race and Ruti Aga took the women’s title in unfavourable wet and windy conditions.

Legese beat the Kenyan duo of Bedan Karoki and Dickson Chumba who completed the podium finishing second and third.

Karoki came home second in 2hr 6min 48 seconds and last year’s winner Chumba third in 2:08.44, more than three minutes down on his 2018 run.

Legese, 24, who made an impressive marathon debut in Dubai in January last year, won in two hours, four minutes and 48 seconds — just 33 seconds slower than his personal best set in Dubai, but still the second-fastest ever run in Tokyo.

Ruti Aga od Ethiopia wins the 2019 Tokyo marathon © AFP / Toru YAMANAKA

“I’m very happy. Rain was a bit annoying but I’m very happy,” Legese said, adding he hoped to return for the Olympic Games marathon next year.

“I hope to run for the second straight year here,” he said.

In the women’s event Ethiopians swept the podium as Aga, 25, won in 2:20.40, 21 seconds ahead of Helen Tolao with Shure Demise a further four seconds behind in third.

Aga’s winning time was more than two minutes down on her personal best of 2:18:34 set in Berlin last year.

More than 37,000 took part in the 12th edition of the race which winds through the streets of Tokyo, including Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka who won the 2012 Nobel prize for work in cell programming.

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