Marathon running is a sport that is seeing an incredible explosion of popularity in China, with the Chinese Athletics Association reporting (CAA) 1,072 marathons and road races have been held so far this year, up from 22 in 2011. While this explosion could help cultivate some world-class athletes, it also seems to be cultivating some world-class cheats.
A total of 258 runners have been penalised for cheating in the Shenzhen half-marathon. Organisers of the race found that 18 runners were running with fake bib numbers, photographers even managed to snap pictures of two competitors wearing the same number.
Alongside those were three imposters and 237 others who were caught by a traffic camera taking a shortcut. Organisers said that runners were supposed to run to the end of a road, take a U-turn, then come all the way back. 237 runners decided against that and cut through some bushes, skipping two or three kilometres of the 21-kilometre race.
Thankfully the cheaters have been dealt swift retribution. The runners wearing fake bib numbers have been given a lifetime ban from the event, while the others are banned for two years.
Around 16,000 athletes run in the event, taking place in the fourth-largest city in the country. This means that an astonishing 1.5% have received bans for their actions. In the Beijing half-marathon last year, organisers used facial recognition software to combat the influx of cheaters, highlighting the growing issue in China.
The race organisers released a statement addressing the events: “we deeply regret the violations that occurred during the event. Marathon running is not simply exercise, it is a metaphor for life, and every runner is responsible for him or herself.”
In only his third attempt Great Britain’s Mo Farah has won his first marathon in Chicago. The four-time Olympic gold medalist previously competed in London in 2014 finishing eighth, and again in London this April where he finished third and set a new British record of 2 hours, 6 minutes and 21 seconds.
This time Farah’s clock stopped at 2 hours, 5 minutes and 11 seconds shaving a massive 70 seconds on his previous attempt. He became the first British athlete to win the event since Paul Evans in 1996.
After retiring from the track in August 2017 to focus on road racing, Farah has won his record fifth successive Great North Run last month as well as proving himself as a force to be reckoned with over the full 26.2 mile distance.
Talking about the race Farah said: “The conditions weren’t great and everyone was thinking about conditions rather than time, but towards the end we picked it up. I felt good towards the end of the race. At the beginning I felt a bit sluggish but overall I’m very happy with it.”
In the wet conditions Farah looked strong for much of the race, however he wasn’t alone. It wasn’t until the final half-mile that he began distancing himself from Mosinet Geremew. A strong runner in his own right, Geremew became the first person to win twice at the Yangzhou Jianzhen International Half Marathon with back-to-back wins in 2015 and 2016, setting the fastest ever half marathon time in a Chinese race.
The 26-year-old had to settle for second place in Illinois though as Farah crossed the line 13 seconds clear of the Ethiopian. Farah’s win means that he receives the mantle of victor from his former training partner Galen Rupp with whom he competed in three Olympics.
Elsewhere in the other Chicago races, Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei won the women’s race with a time of 2 hours, 18 minutes and 35 seconds, and Manuela Schar won the women’s wheelchair race in 1 hour, 41 minutes and 38 seconds. Six-time Paralympic gold medalist David Weir had to settle for third in the men’s wheelchair races as American Daniel Romanchuk took home the victory with a time of 1 hour, 31 minutes and 34 seconds.
Kenyan athlete Eluid Kipchoge took an incredible 78 seconds off the previous marathon record, held by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto and also set during the Berlin Marathon back in 2014. 78 seconds is the largest margin of difference in a new marathon record since 1967, when Derek Clayton broke it by 2 minutes and 24 seconds. Kipchoge adds this record to his gold medal won at the Rio Olympics and a third London Marathon win earlier this year.
“I lack words to describe this day. I am really grateful, happy to smash the world record” said Kipchoge. “It was hard. I ran my own race, I trusted my trainers, my programme, and my coach. That’s what pushed me in the last kilometres.” From the start of the race it was clear that the victory would be his, the only remaining question being how fast could be run.
His astounding time of 2 hr 01 min 39 sec is still far from his personal best. In 2017 he was the centre of a controversial attempt to break the two-hour mark for a marathon by Nike as part of their Breaking2 project. The time was not officially recognised due to there being 30 elite athletes rotating to keep up the pace. At 2 hr 00 min 25 sec, it showed that while the two hour barrier may not be attainable yet, the world record certainly is.
Kipchoge’s time is certainly an amazing breakthrough in the marathon, however the 33-year-old Kenyan has been in a league of his own for many years now. Victory in Berlin made it 10 victories out of 11 starts with this this ninth straight. A streak that has not been seen in the modern era. The only accolade he was missing was the world record.
His last two visits to Berlin showed that all he needed was the right conditions. In 2015, he won with a time of 2 hours and 4 minutes dead. This time is especially impressive considering he ran most of the race with the insoles of his shoes flapping with every step. Then in 2017, he ran 2 hours 3 minutes and 32 seconds in the wet. Finally, in his third trip to Berlin, the weather was perfect. This was his chance to break the record, a chance that he took full advantage of.
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