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Lel upsets Olympic champion Wanjiru in US half-marathon

By | March 2nd 2010

By Feverpitch Reporter And Agencies

Three-time London Marathon champion, Martin Lel capped his return from injury with victory over Olympics gold medallist, Samuel Wanjiru at the inaugural Mardi Gras Half Marathon in New Orleans on Sunday.

Lel stopped the timer at 1:01:07 to force Wanjiru to accept silver in 1:01:33. Half Marathon debutant Shadrack Biwott ensured Kenya made a podium sweep when he came home seven seconds adrift of Wanjiru (1:01:40) for third.

The battle between Wanjiru, the reigning World Marathon Major champion and half-marathon world record-holder and Beijing fifth finisher Lel, who has been plagued with injuries since winning his third London title in 2008, was the top bill in the first running of the event in Los Angeles.

It did not disappoint since in a re-run of the 2008 London Marathon, Lel injected his famed killer kick at the last to humble the man who succeeded him a year later, setting up an exciting prospect with both runners lined-up for another clash in England in April. Biwott is a former University of Oregon runner.

Ethiopian Berhane Adere won a close women’s race in a relatively quick 1:07:52 over former Providence College runner Kim Smith (1:07:55) of Ireland.

Elsewhere, Peter Kemeli Some washed away disappointment of missing the national cross-country team slot by securing a surprise win at the 36th Roma Ostia Half Marathon in Italy.

Kimeli, the 20-year-old from Eldoret and a younger brother of Matthew Kisorio who was expunged from the senior 12km squad last week by Athletics Kenya was running in his maiden half marathon.

The 13:02 (5,000m) and 27:15 (10,000m) runner on the track showed no fear towards his favoured compatriots, 2006 Roma Ostia champion William Todoo Rotich (PB 1:00:12) and last year’s winner Elijah Keitany, who ran the distance in 1:00:10 and has a Marathon PB of 2:06:41.

Kimeli ran 1:01:51 for victory with Todoo (1:01:54) and Ethiopia’s Tujuba Megersa (1:02:16) sealing the top three. Keitany (1:02.49) was sixth.

Alice Timbili won the women’s race in 1:10:34 edging home runner Rosaria Console (1:10:54).

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