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Ethiopia’s Mulu Seboka successfully defended her title while compatriot Tsegaye Getachew won the men’s race at the ICBC Cup Dalian International Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label road race, on Sunday (12).

Seboka lived up to expectations as the 34-year-old literally paced the race from start to finish, notching her second straight victory in the Chinese coastal city in 2:27:19.

Her winning mark is 1:40 faster than the time she set last year, but more than five minutes shy of her personal best of 2:21:56 recorded back in 2015.

It is also her third consecutive Chinese marathon title as Seboka also won the Shenzhen Marathon in 2:27:12 last December.

Seboka spearheaded a leading group of five runners in the early stages of the race. When the leaders hit the 10km mark in 34:32 only four were left and they were further cut to just two after 18km.

Seboka and the relatively unheralded Bedada Tigist Tadese, also from Ethiopia, ran side by side for nearly 20km, extending their advantage to two-and-a-half minutes before the in-form defending champion pulled clear.

Tadese clocked 2:29:02 to finish second while Almaz Negede clocked 2:31:24 to complete an Ethiopian sweep.

The 22-year-old Getachew outsprinted compatriot Mekuant Ayenew, winner of the 2018 Venice Marathon and 2016 Beijing Marathon, in the last 200 metres to take in win in 2:11:25.

It was the first marathon victory for Getachew, who debuted over the classic distance in 2018 and set a career best of 2:09:24 last year in Shanghai.

The men’s race saw a crowded leading group of 18 runners early in the race. The leaders passed 5km in 15:45 and 10km in 31:24 but the group started to shrink after passing the 15km water station in 46:44.

The leaders seemed to mainly focus on the victory instead of the clock as no one was willing to speed up too early. When they passed 35km in 1:49:53, there were still 10 men left in the pack.

Ernest Ngeno was the first to make his move. The 24-year-old Kenyan, who improved his PB to 2:06:41 last April in Paris, tried to pull away after 37km. Although his effort came in vain, it broke up the leading group as four runners failed to keep up.

Ayenew then launched his charge after 39km and this time only Getachew managed to match his pace. The duo remained together for some two kilometres until Getachew finally edged out Ayenew with his powerful home stretch run.

Ayenew trailed three seconds behind to take second place. Kenya’s Mathew Kiptoo trimmed more than three minutes off his PB to finish third in 2:11:45.

Vincent Wu for the IAAF

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