PARIS (AP) Mark Korir of Kenya surprised many including himself as he won the Paris marathon on Sunday to claim the biggest victory of his career.
A specialist over shorter distances, Korir completed the 42-kilometer (26-mile) race in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 49 seconds to improve his personal best set two years ago when finishing runner-up in Seoul by more than a minute.
The 30-year-old Korir won ahead of fellow Kenyan Luka Kanda, who placed third last year, and Ethiopian Seboka Tola.
''I didn't expect to win at all, and I did not expect such a great time. I knew there were a lot of strong guys in the line-up who had run below 2:07, so the victory today was quite a surprise for me,'' said Korir, who ran faster during the second half of the race to succeed last year's winner Kenenisa Bekele.
In perfect weather conditions, another Kenyan runner, Mike Kigen, attacked 10 kilometers from the finish but Korir, who finished second in the Paris half-marathon last month, dropped him in the Bois de Boulogne with about five kilometers to go. Kigen finished fourth.
''I didn't go off with Kigen at the beginning because I wanted to run at my own pace and it worked out very well,'' Korir said. ''Although today was a great, injury free race, I think I can go even faster than my time today. I believe I can go as fast as 2:04.''
Ethiopia's Meseret Mengistu won the women's race in 2:23:24, taking almost six minutes off her personal best. Amane Gobena of Ethiopia finished second in 2:23:29 and Visiline Jepkesho took third place in 2:24:42.