James Kipsang Kwambai on his way to victory (Organisers) © Copyright
Report Seoul, Korea

Kwambai secures hat-trick in Seoul

For the third year in succession, James Kwambai won the Joongang Seoul Marathon on Sunday (3), coming close to the course record he set last year.

Running in 8°C and at 90% humidity, the Kenyan crossed the finish line in the Jamsil Stadium in 2:06:25, just 35 seconds adrift of his winning time from 12 months ago.

“I am so happy with the win, everything went perfectly,” said Kwambai, who won here in 2011 in 2:08:50. “At 38km I felt good and decided to push the pace. I ran the last 4km alone and felt very comfortable. Thanks to my coach Claudio Berardelli who helped me in Kaptagat to reach this great shape.”

It was Kwambai’s fifth-fastest time of his career. His personal best of 2:04:27 was set in Rotterdam in 2009 and at the time it was a Kenyan record, co-held with Duncan Kibet, and the second-fastest performance in history.

Along with Rotterdam, he has previously also been a runner-up at the Berlin and New York Marathons.

In second, 28-year-old Kenyan Mark Korir made a promising Marathon debut with 2:07:08. Less than a minute behind, Morocco’s Mustapha El Aziz smashed his personal best by six minutes to finish third in 2:07:55 in his second Marathon to date.

Former winner of this race, Kenya’s Jason Mbote finished fourth in 2:09:48. The highest-placed Korean athlete was Sung Ji-Hun, who finished ninth in 2:13:14.

The women’s field was a domestic one and the top two finishers improved their PBs. Park Ho-Sun went one place better than last year to win in 2:31:32, while 2011 World Championships representative Lee Sook-Jung took second place in 2:33:36.

A correspondent for the IAAF