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Kenenisa Bekele sets course record on Debut

Kenenisa Bekele - Paris Marathon

Kenenisa Bekele made his debut over the distance in style, when winning the Paris Marathon 2014 in a new course record of 2:05:04. The Ethiopian, who is still the 5000m and 10000m World Record holder, is considered the greatest distance athlete in history and had set the goal of breaking the course record of 2:05:12

Kenenisa Bekele shows confidence in Paris

Winning the Paris 26 miler, certainly announced the arrival of Bekele at the distance however it did not come without pain, considering the powerfully built legs of the East African took strain in the left hamstring, as he began to cramp with 8km to go.

One cannot say that any athlete ever threatened Bekele, and that his major challenge came from the muscles cramping, with the most difficult part of the race distance still to come.

Early in the race, with the kilometers clicking by and 5k in 14:43, 10k in 29:35 followed by 15km in a swift 44:15, King Kenny looked relaxed and was able to smile while sitting comfortably to the fore of the lead pack, directly behind the designated pace-setters.

With their pace duties delivered through the halfway mark (21.1km) in 62:09, the rabbits stepped off the course, only to have the 3rd pacesetter to take up his duties. The lanky Kenyan accelerated, splitting the lead pack of 8, with only Bekele responding without a blink, to the up in tempo. The pace did not last and the group reformed.

Till now Bekele had been all smiles, that of a relaxed athlete. The surge had changed his demeanour and his face and form looked like that of athlete fully focused on the job at hand. From 25km out, Bekele had to deliver his own pace and was joined by his compatriot Tamirat Tola.

One thing that was evident, was how Bekele was focusing on his ‘fuel’ intake, at no time did he not achieve his water-point goals and for an athlete on their debut, he looked totally in control of the job at hand.

Inexplicably, the designated pacesetter disappeared, and the gap between the pursuers of the frontrunners began to close.

King Kenny, was having none of that and he accelerated away from his countryman. This put day between all his competition.

By 30km, in 1:28:39, Bekele was close to a 100m clear and looked full of running and in exceptionally fine fettle.

Looks can so often be deceiving in the marathon, and then with just over 8km to go, Bekele signalled that his left leg was cramping. He was to confirm this in the immediate post race interview.

This was significant, as you could visibly see that the left leg was tying up and that he was next extending as freely.

Credit to the Ethiopian, as he utilised his arms to good effect and allowed his tempo to drop to around 3 minutes perk, the slowest pace of the race, but importantly, not truly faltering to allow his challengers back into the game.

1:43:36 through 35km and Bekele had to me looked better and smoother than his pursuers. Tola had begun to fade and would be overtaken by another countryman, Limenih Getachew, who would take 2nd place in 2:06:49 (a new Personal Best PB).

With 4km to go, Bekele temporarily upped the pace and it looked all over bar the shouting, so good was he looking despite the obvious cramping.

Dropping his arms to release the tension in his shoulders, you see the athlete was in control of his own race and that there certainly is more to come.

At 40km in 1:58:31, the goal of a course record was on.

Once Bekele passed the 42km mark he seemed to acknowledge he had won the race and began to relax, then he noticed how close he was to going sub 2:05 or maybe that he would fail to break the course record, so he began to sprint.

2:05:03 was the winning time and new course record.

Getachew took 2nd, with Kenya’s Luka Kanda 3rd in 2:08:02

For the record, Kenya’s Flomena Cheyech took the Women’s title in 2:22:24

Author: Gavin Doyle

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