Raymond Choge and Milliam Ebongon raced to victory at the 95th edition of the Kosice Peace Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label road race and the oldest marathon in Europe, on Sunday.
Running in pleasant conditions, Choge out-sprinted Ethiopian Aychew Bantie over the final 400 metres to take the four-second victory in 2:08:11, a personal best and the third best winning time in Kosice.
Bantie’s 2:08:15 was also a lifetime best.
Shumet Mengistu, another Ethiopian, was third in 2:08:50, also in a lifetime best. Defending champion Reuben Kerio was fourth in 2:09:23 with Nicholas Korir, who was making his marathon debut, rounding off the top five in 2:11:33.
“I wanted to be better than last year and I was also hoping for new personal best,” said Choge, who was fifth last year. “My goals were fulfilled, I must be satisfied.”
The women’s race provided a surprise. It wasn’t Sheila Jerotich, the defending champion, who followed the fast tempo set by male pacer Cyrus Kiplagat but instead it was Ebongon, who debuted in the marathon last spring in Enschede where she ran alone.
Here, running with the pacesetter, she reached the half in a promising 1:12:00.
Jerotich tried to maintain contact but ultimately dropped back.
Ebongon meanwhile was rewarded with a big personal best of 2:27:16 and a course record to secure the fifth Kenyan double at this race. “I did not believe I could win and achieve a course record before the race,” the winner said.
“Now this is reality and I think I can run even faster.”
Jerotich was second in 2:29:40 with Ethiopian Jemila Wortesa Shure third in 2:32:32