Hong Kong Marathon's first and second finishers were so close they shared the same winning time - 2:11:27. Ethiopian Dereje Abera Ali (1st) and Kenyan Eliud Cheptei Kapchanga (2nd) also beat the existing race record of 2:13:09, which has stood since 1998, the second year of the event.

 

For the last 10 minutes of the men’s race, four runners jostled for first place and the US$50,000 winner’s cheque. Leading the pack was eventual winner, Dereje Ali, followed closely by a trio of Kenyans Eliud Kapchanga, Cosmas Kyeva and last year's 1st runner up Julius Maisei. The sprint finish saw Ali clinch victory with just a second separating the first four runners.

To prove how good that race was, seven runners broke the previous record set in 1998 by Wolashe Belay and in addition had a share of US$25,000 special time bonus.

 

On a day when 20 nationalities and 70,000 runners participated, Ethiopia made it a double celebration when Misiker Demissie finished ahead of Kenyan Debllu Gemechu in a time of 2:30:12. In breaking the women’s record (set in 2001 by Bogachova Irina), she ensured a payday of US$85,000 that included time bonuses.

 

On her win she said “I was very pleased. In fact the race was easier than the training. My coach has made me train very hard so I was happy to run and not train today.”

 

Participants had three race distances to choose from – 10km, half marathon and full marathon. This year organisers added two wheelchair events - a full marathon and a 3km.

 

The marathon begins in famous Nathan Road and heads through Kowloon, crossing two spectacular bridges before returning and passing under the harbour to Hong Kong Island. The finish line is at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. This year the route was modified to pass through the Central Piers and newly reclaimed areas around the historic Tamar site.

 

Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon is traditionally held about a fortnight after Chinese New Year, which means the date varies from year to year. New Year 2013 falls on 10th February and organisers will announce the new race date later this year. It pays to enter promptly as spaces in all events have sold out quickly the past few years.

 

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