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Lel outsprints rivals in London

Lel wins the 27th Flora London Marathon - Source: BBC (23/04/2007)

Kenya’s Martin Lel shows he has learnt his lessons from last year loss to countryman Felix Limo as he regained the Flora London Marathon title in style in London.

Lel won in 2:07:41, three seconds ahead of Moroccan Abderrahim Goumri with last year’s champion, Felix Limo third in 2:07:44.

Lel, who had been beaten in a sprint by Limo 12 months earlier, said: "I corrected the mistakes from last year and I had to be careful to preserve my energy.

"Last year I made a great mistake when I did not have enough left at the finish and I could not react.

"But today was one of the most tactical races I have run. I am proud with this win because there were several champions running."

Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie, the multi-Olympic and world champion at 10,000m and one of the sport’s legends, was forced to stop at the 20 mile mark suffering from a stitch, whilst Kenyan five-time world cross country champion and the world marathon record-holder, Paul Tergat ended up sixth in 2:08.06.

As usual, the men’s race sparked the glorious image of the 35,000 club, charity and fun runners behind them. But at the business end of proceedings - in terms of the elite - the men’s race took on an extraordinary theme.

David Bedford, the Race Director of the Flora London Marathon, had assembled the best men’s field in history and the event did not disappoint.

It was close from the beginning until the last stages when four men were left challenging in Birdcage Walk, bringing the marathon down to the sort of sprint you might expect on a track race.

In the hot conditions, there was never going to be the chance of an attempt at the world record of 2:04:55 held by Paul Tergat.

Tergat, Moroccan double world champion Jaouad Gharib and Italian Stefano Baldini, the Olympic champion, were among the elite athletes which not only made this race such a fantastic prospect but left it so tough to call as to whom might win.

Three men pacemakers from Kenya were assigned to reach the halfway point in 62:45 and Paul Kimugul, Wilfred Taragon and Patrick Makau led a field of 14 for the opening miles, taking them through in 4:56, 4:59, 4:39 as the men headed towards the 5km mark with Limo being the first of the group.

There was just 0.02 between Baldini, in 10th position, and him but it was not to prove an afternoon to remember for the Italian because he was out of contention within another 5km.

He dropped out after 28km with cramp. As the race progressed, the lead, behind the pacemakers, was swapping hands at regular intervals with all of the main players taking turns to be in front.

At 10km, Hendrik Ramaala (RSA) was recorded ahead with 30:11 but behind him Gharib, Gebrselassie and Limo all had the same time.

Gebrselassie was running London for the third occasion and he was determined to add this title to his list of amazing honours and having finished third in 2002, on his international marathon debut, and he was ninth last year and he was looking comfortable.

Wearing black stockings, he was in the sort of mood, it seemed, where he might dictate the race as he sought his fourth victory over the distance to go alongside his triumphs in Amsterdam, Berlin and Fukuoka. But no-one could predict what lie ahead.

As the pacemakers were chasing their target, the race saw its first split when Limo led a pack of eight, including Tergat and Khalid Khannouchi (USA), the London champion in 2002 when he won in a world record of 2:05:38.

Then, from nowhere, there was drama at just past 30km when Gebrselassie, who had been in seventh place, stopped. He stood by the side of the road in Canary Wharf, lent against a crash barrier and was breathing heavily.

Culled from London-marathon.co.uk

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International Amateur Athletics Federation

27th Flora London Marathon 2007


Video Highlights:
2007 Flora London Marathon elite races


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Last updated: 30-Apr-2007 12:58 PM

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