Seboka Smashes Women’s CR at ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

TORONTO, September 28th.
Ethiopia‰Ûªs Mulu Seboka didn‰Ûªt let
humid and breezy conditions slow her down as she set a new personal best of
to convincingly win the 9th Annual Scotiabank Toronto
Waterfront Marathon
. Her performance smashed the previos course record by more
than four minutes, set last year by compatriot Asha Gigi, who was third today.
Ukraine‰Ûªs Olena Shurkhno ran a very
smart race to come through for second in 2:30:13, a PR by more three minutes.
The men‰Ûªs race proved far more tactical, and was decided in an exciting sprint
to the line as Kenneth Mungara held off fellow-Kenyan Peter Kiprotich by 2
seconds for the victory, 2:11:01 to 2:11:03.


A record of more than 10,000
took off in a combined field of marathoners [3100] and half marathoners
[7300], from the new Start/Finish venue at Nathan Phillips Square, City Hall, in the
heart of downtown. Another 4,700 took part in the separate 5K fun run. Although
the temperature did not rise much during the morning, it was already 17 degrees
celcius at the 7:30am Start, with cloudy skies and high humidity. Seboka was
content to sit in with the pacemakers and a group of 3 Ethiopians and 3 Kenyans
for the first half of the contest. The group passed 10k in 35:05 and 21.1k in
1:13:49. Shurkhno, who appeared relaxed and focused all week in Toronto prior to the race,
was content to sit back, patiently, almost a minute behind at halfway.

By 30k,
as they emerged from Tommy Thomson
Park into a stiff breeze,
Seboka and Gigi were alone at the front. With Shurkhno closing fast, and only 13
seconds back, Seboka made her decisive move. She looked strong and confident
throughout the morning and the result never looked in doubt over the last 10k.

‰ÛÏI wasn‰Ûªt expecting the time to be that good,‰Û said the diminutive Ethiopian who
just turned 24 years old on Thursday. ‰ÛÏBut I was certain I would win! My fitness
is good and nothing was going to stop me.‰Û Seboka and the other Ethiopians said
they were definitely inspired by watching Haile Gebreselassie‰Ûªs world record run
in Berlin on the internet before leaving their
hotel for the start line in Toronto.

‰ÛÏI left my village on my own when I
was 17 to run in the big city. Haile is like a father to us, an inspiration,
although he often tells me not to run so much.‰Û  But it was perhaps Seboka‰Ûªs prodigious
training regimen, of more than 200 km some weeks, with 40k runs most mornings
and another one-hour run in the afternoon, that gave her an unassailable
strength on the Toronto Waterfront.

‰ÛÏThis is my personal best. I‰Ûªm still young.
My dream is to be a champion. This is an important step. Perhaps I now have a
chance to make the team for the World Championships,‰Û she said.  Shurkhno, who had set her previous PR of
2:33:37 only 5 months ago at the Country Music Marathon, was equally delighted
with her disciplined performance, running only a minute slower in the second
half than the first. In contrast, the other Africans wilted in the humidity:
Gigi to 2:33:24; Caroline Cheptonui to 2:34:27 for 4th; and Atsede
Bayisa to 2:35:56 for 5th.  

 The men‰Ûªs race started
promisingly. A group of 10, that included last year‰Ûªs champion and Canadian
All-comers record-holder, John Kelai, followed the 3 pacemakers nicely through
10k right on schedule for an expected sub-2:10, at 30:19. At halfway, only
Zimbabwe‰Ûªs George Mujaji had dropped
off the back, and at 64:41, the group had only slipped from 3:02s to running
3:05s per kilometer.

In the park, between 25k and 30k, the group steadily broke
up, with only Peter Kiprotich, who had run 2:08:49 in Frankfurt last autumn,
Kenneth Mungara, Prague winner in April, and Ethiopia‰Ûªs Amensisa Ketema hanging
onto a reduced pace from pacers Paul Kimugul and Willian Chebon. They passed 30k
in 1:33:09. with the sub 2:10 looking decidedly unlikely. By the time Kimugul
and Chebon stepped off at 32k, Kiprotich had a gap of about 25 metres on Mungara
with Ketema a further distance back. Interestingly, Kiprotich then appeared to
slow down to allow Mungara to catch him.

The two then worked with some purpose
getting back to 3:01 and 3:02 kilometres from 33km to 35km, and widening the gap
to some 100m over Ketema. Between 37km and 38km first Kiprotich and then Mungara
each tried a couple of time to get away. It was not until after 41km that
Mungara made a successful effort and opened up a 5 metre gap that Kiprotich was
unable to close, despite a thrilling sprint up Bay Street to City
Hall. Ketema crossed third in 2:11:52. David Taurus came through for
4th in 2:12:13; Kelai was 5th in 2:12:43 suffering from
cramps, with Rome winner Jonathan Yego 6th in


Canada‰Ûªs Dylan Wykes had a strong run in
the conditions, in just his second marathon, finishing first non-African in
11th in 2:16:21, and helping Team Canada defeat Team Mexico and Team England in the
developmental International Team Challenge. 


Full results at 

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