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ALL IN THE GENES
Much talk of Kenyan runners profiting from birth and nurturing at altitude
took an interesting diversion today, when Patrick Chumba won the inaugural
Marseille Music Marathon in a personal best, 2hr 12min 06sec. Different
traditions relating to family names obscure the fact that the 24 year old
Chumba is the son of Peter Koech, a former world record holder in the
steeplechase. Koech ran 8min 05.35sec in Stockholm on July 3, 1989.
"It was because my father was a good runner, that I began training when I
was 15," said Chumba. Of course it helps that, in common with most of his
compatriots, Chumba was born and trains at altitude. He is a Nandi
tribesman, like the first great Kenyan distance runner, Kipchoge Keino.
The race turned into something of a local struggle, because the leader for
over 40 kilometres was Julius Sugut, who comes from the same town,
Kapsabet, as Chumba. "I was trying to get away from him, because I knew he
would be strong at the end," said Sugut. So it proved, Chumba raised the
pace in the final kilometre, leaving Sugut second, on 2.12.21. A third
Kenyan, John Kiprono was third in 2.12.51.
It was a different story in the women's race. Tatyana Hladyr of the Ukraine
led every step of the way, to win by over five minutes, in 2.37.50. Second
and third were Russians, Lilya Yadzhak and Nadejda Zolotareva, in 2.43.39
and 2.44.09 respectively.
Over 3000 runners in all took to the Marseille streets for this inaugural
race around the port city, founded by Greeks in 600BC. Modelled on the
Rock'n'Roll Marathon in San Diego, there was a succession of sound stages
around the course, with local groups providing entertainment.
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