Titus Ekiru celebrated a win in the third Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon but fell short of his personal best and a course record time on Friday.
The Kenyan crossed the finish line in two hours six minutes and 13 seconds, below the timing of the first two editions (2:04:04 in 2018 and 2:04:40 in 2019) of the race.
“It was a good strong race and very happy with this win,” Ekiru, who clocked the fastest marathon time of the year (2:02:57) at the Milano said soon after completing the race.
“The course was flat and fast as we expected, and the weather remained fine throughout the race. I didn’t get the time that I wanted but very satisfied with the result.
“The win was the most important today. That was the plan when I discussed the race strategy with my manager. I hope to be back next year and then we’ll see if I can do it better, hopefully.”
Tanzanian Alphonce Simbu (2:07:50) took the second spot followed by defending champion Reuben Kipyego, Abel Kirui and Felix Kimutai, all from Kenya in that order.
Judith Korir took the women’s title from Eunice Chumba and Immaculate Chemutai to complete the double for Kenya.
Korir finished the race in 2:22:30 having led for most of the 42.2-kilometre distance.
Chumba, competing for the third time in the race, had to settle for silver - just as she did at the inaugural Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon.
“It was one too good for me again but I’ll take this result as another positive from the race,” the Kenyan-born Bahraini said.
“I did my best but Judith kept going to the end. She was the stronger runner in the race today.”
In the men’s race, Ekiru and Kipyego set the early pace leading a group of eight runners. Approaching the halfway mark, the pair broke away to be out on their own in front.
As the race progressed, it was Ekiru who led. He appeared to have the race in the bag from a long way out. With no challenger in sight, possibly missed out on a course record time.
Kipyego dropped down approaching the 30km mark but remained in second ahead of Victor Kipchirchir and Simbu, who finished best of the trio to take second.
Moroccans Yassir Chaachoui and Hajiba Hasnaoui won the 10km prizes for men and women.
Othmane Boussammana, also of Morocco, took the men’s 5km race and Ola Tarabah of Lebanon the women’s prize.
John O’Boyle and Aidan Monaghan of Blue Steel team was first in the Relay Marathon.
Niall McCarthy and Michelle Nagle (Cyclezone) and Roland Lleshi and Vassil Stamenov (Team Fernando) finished second and third respectively.
Ayed Al Ahbabi and Badir Al Hosani led a one two finish for the UAE in the wheelchair marathon. Ali Al Saadi of Oman was third.