World marathon silver medallist from Beijing 2015 rolls back the years with last-gasp victory in French capital.
Helah Kiprop produced one of her finest performances in recent years as she edged out Atalel Anmut by just two tenths of a second in an enthralling end to the Paris Marathon.
The 37-year-old Kenyan, who is a major marathon winner after triumphing in Tokyo seven years ago, clocked 2:23:19, which was astonishing given the fact she was more than one minute behind the leading group at 25km.
It’s her fastest marathon time since her victory in Japan back in 2016 when she recorded a mark of 2:21:27.
A veteran of the sport, Kiprop has competed in four out of the six Abbott Major Marathons – the only ones she hasn’t raced in are Chicago and New York. She also finished seventh in the world championships marathon at London 2017.
The men’s race saw Abeje Ayana shock favourite Guye Adola. A margin of victory of 20 seconds was deserving for the 20-year-old who broke away in the last 5km.
What made the win even more impressive was that it was Ayana’s marathon debut. His best result before Paris was a half-marathon in Poznan, Poland, where Ayana clocked 59:39.
To see off Adola over 26.2 miles at the first time of asking was no mean feat, given the 32-year-old burst on to the scene in dramatic fashion in 2017 when he set the then fastest marathon debut in history with 2:03:46 in Berlin, finishing only second to Eliud Kipchoge.
Four years later, Adola went one better in the German capital after clocking 2:05:45, a time that was good enough to see off Bethwel Yegon and Kenenisa Bekele.
Elsewhere in Paris, David Weir laid down a marker ahead of his attempt to win a record-breaking ninth London Marathon title, with victory and a time of 1:34:23 as he navigated the cobbled streets of the French capital.
The best French performances in both the men’s and women’s races came from Medhi Frere (2:11:05) and Anaïs Quemener (2:47:02) respectively.
Aurélien Quinion – French 20km and 35km race walk champion and national record-holder in the latter distance – was a popular athlete and got a huge cheer across the line after his time of 3:06:32.
Another French athlete who impressed was ultra-runner Mathieu Blanchard, who finished second and third placed at the last two editions of Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.
Blanchard was using the Paris Marathon as training for Western States 100 in June and clocked a fine mark of 2:22:36.
With the second-most finishers in the world, behind the New York City Marathon, Paris is always a popular marathon, with Brits on average making up 10% of the numbers.
The modern version of the Paris Marathon started in 1976 but the historic Tour de Paris Marathon, which was inspired by the first modern Olympiad in Athens, took place in 1896. It was won by Brit Len Hurst in 2:31:30.
Source: Athletes Weekly