Clean podium sweep as Kenyan stars dominate Rome Marathon

Kenya's Brigid Kosgei in past action. [File]

Kenyan charges displayed another historic dominance at the 2024 Rome Marathon, producing a clean podium sweep in the men’s contest.

Asbel Rutto pulled a huge surprise, leading the Kenyan contingent to, not just a clean podium sweep, but to a 1-8 dominant finish.

In a stylish fashion, Rutto, who comes from Kapcherop in Elgeyo Marakwet County, stormed to victory in 2:06:23, crushing the Rome Marathon course record.

The previous course record of 2:06:48 was set by Ethiopian Bekele Tefera Fikre at the 2022 edition.

Rutto was joined on the podium spots by Brian Kipsang and Sila Kiptoo, all from Elgeyo Marakwet.

Kipsang, 29, and Kiptoo, 25, came in second and third in 2:07:55 and 2:08:08 respectively in the showdown that saw Kenyan men take nine spots in the top ten.

The Rome Marathon triumph was Rutto’s first big win in a global marathon contest.

The 22-year-old was second at the Mersin International Marathon in Turkey last December and fifth at the 2023 Lisbon 42km in Portugal.

On paper, he was not the race favourite, and at his age, he raised eyebrows.

There were 18 elite men competing for a place in the event’s roll of honour; 12 of the long distance athletes coming from Kenya. Two men came from Ethiopia.

Ivyn Lagat led Lydia Simiyu to a 1-2 stellar finish in the women’s category.

The Lisbon Half marathon, also run yesterday, ended with strong talking points, particularly in the women’s category.

Former women’s marathon world record holder Brigid Kosgei stamped authority in her category.

The double London Marathon champion missed the Lisbon 21km course record but displayed pure class.

She timed 1:05:51 to finish first ahead of Ethiopian Bosena Mulatie (1:09:00) and compatriot Tigist Mengistu (1:09:14) who came in second and third respectively.

The former world marathon record holder stepped onto the lead just after the halfway mark and sustained the momentum to the finish line, beating Mengistu by three minutes.

After yesterday’s Lisbon half marathon showdown, Kosgei will be tuning her focus on a cat-fight in London where she will be facing bigwigs including Joyciline Jepkosgei and Olympic champion Peres Chepchirchir, with reigning world record holder Tigist Assefa of Ethiopia in the mix.

Betty Chepkemoi of Kenya came fourth 1:09:35.

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