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Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Sunday, 13 April 2008 12:08 UK
London Marathon
12 April 2008

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Lel out-sprinted his rival in the final few metres

Kenya's Martin Lel set a new course record at the London Marathon as he defended his title to win the race for the third time in four years.

Lel finished in a time of two hours five minutes and 15 seconds to beat compatriot Samuel Wanjiru into second place after a sprint finish.

Germany's Irina Mikitenko took the women's race on her London debut.

Britain's Liz Yelling and Dan Robinson both ran personal bests to almost certainly book their Olympic places.

Lel was the pre-race favourite, and the 29-year-old justified the hype as he broke the previous London best of 2:05.38 set by Khalid Khannounchi in 2002.


The first six men across the line all set personal bests on a day of fine performance despite the changeable weather conditions in the capital.

Lel, Wanjiru and third-placed Abderrahim Goumri broke away from the leading group with four miles remaining and came into Westminster Square together.

But, as in previous years, Lel's sprint finish proved the difference.

"I knew I had to use my experience today and if I made a mistake I would lose," he said.

Robinson ran a time of 2:13.11 - more than 40 seconds better than his previous best - to finish in 12th place, just behind Olympic champion Stefano Baldini.

Liz Yelling admitted it had 'hurt'

"I'm quite satisfied, I can only do my best," he told BBC Sport.

"It's mind-boggling when the leaders are running 2:05 but my job was to finish top Brit, to run a PB if possible and try to confirm my Olympic place which I think I've done, so it's a case of job done."

Yelling recorded a time of 2:28.33 to finish ahead of her British rivals.

"I'm delighted to break the two-and-a-half hour barrier," Yelling, who finished three places ahead of fellow Brit Hayley Haining, told BBC Sport.

"I'm not sure I ran the best tactical race but I decided to just race and see how much I had.

"There was a lot of pressure, and it was just a case of trying to keep it in perspective and not let it get to me."

Russia's Svetlana Zakharova was in second place behind Mikitenko's winning time of 2:24.14, while Ethiopia's Gete Wami took third.

Germany's Irina Mikitenko
Mikitenko only started running marathons last year

Mikitenko, who used to run for her native Kazakhstan before moving to Germany in 1998, was running only her second race over the marathon distance after her switch from the long distance track events.

She finished second to Wami in the Berlin Marathon last year, but the Ethiopian race favourite fell badly at a feeding station by Canary Wharf and was left limping for the remainder of the race.

Mikitenko looked strong throughout and made the decisive break with 5km to go as the rain fell.

"I knew from 30km I could win and whatever happened I could deal with it," said Mikitenko.

Zakharova finished runner-up for the third time after previous near misses in 2001 and 2002.

The race took a slight detour after reports of a gas leak at a pub near the halfway point, but an inspection saw the course subsequently restored to its original route.

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BBC Sport's marathon music montage

With more than 35,000 runners pounding the streets of London, the event was expected to raise millions of pounds for charity.

Several celebrity runners were among those taking part, including chef Gordon Ramsey, Hollywood actor Johnny Lee Miller, former EastEnders and Quadrophenia star Phil Daniels and TV actress Amanda Holden.

Olympic rowing gold medallist James Cracknell finished just inside three hours in an impressive display.

Six Masai warriors from northern Tanzania, running in their traditional robes and carrying shields, were also among the participants.

London Marathon leading results (men):

1. Martin Lel (Kenya) 2 hrs 5 mins 15 secs
2. Samuel Wanjiru (Kenya) 2:05:24
3. Abderrahim Goumri (Morocco) 2:05:30
4. Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya) 2:06:15
5. Ryan Hall (US) 2:06:17
6. Deriba Mergia (Ethiopia) 2:06:38
7. Yonas Kifle (Eritrea) 2:08:51
8. Felix Limo (Kenya) 2:10:34
9. Aleksey Sokolov (Russia) 2:11:41
10. Hendrick Ramaala (South Africa) 2:11:44

London Marathon leading results (women):

1. Irina Mikitenko (Germany) 2 hrs 24 mins 14 secs
2. Svetlana Zakharova (Russia) 2:24:39
3. Gete Wami (Ethiopia) 2:25:37
4. Salina Kosgei (Kenya) 2:26:30
5. Ludmila Petrova (Russia) 2:26:45
6. Souad Ait Salem (Algeria) 2:27:41
7. Berhane Adere (Ethiopia) 2:27:42
8. Constantina Dita (Romania) 2:27:45
9. Liz Yelling (Britain) 2:28:33
10. Adriana Pirtea (Romania) 2:28:52

see also
Your Marathon pictures
13 Apr 08 |  Olympics
Weir wins London Marathon title
13 Apr 08 |  Disability sport
Radcliffe out of London Marathon
06 Mar 08 |  Athletics
Lel wins London Marathon thriller
22 Apr 07 |  Athletics
Radcliffe races to London victory
17 Apr 05 |  Athletics

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