Cyprian Kotut sets personal best to win Paris marathon

PARIS (AP) Cyprian Kotut won the Paris marathon on Sunday as Kenyan runners pulled off a podium sweep in perfect weather conditions.

The 24-year-old Kotut, who also won the Paris half-marathon last month, completed the 42.195-kilometer (26-mile) race in 2 hours, 7 minutes and 11 seconds to improve on his personal best set last year when finishing runner-up in Milano on his debut over the distance (2:08.55).

Kotut, the younger brother of three-time London Marathon winner Martin Lel, came in ahead of Laban Korir, who clocked 2:07.29. Stephen Chemlany finished third in 2:07.37.

In bright sunshine and mild temperatures, the race started on a high pace and remained open until the final kilometers. Kotut made his move with four kilometers left and won alone on the Avenue Foch.

''It's a bit surprising,'' Kotut said. ''It's my second experience at the marathon and I had that fear that I wouldn't have so much experience. My objective was to run my personal best so it's perfect.''

With nine runners together in front after the pacemakers stepped aside, Gebretsadik Abraha accelerated in the Bois de Boulogne at the 38-kilometer mark but the Ethiopian was unable to sustain his effort after Kotut joined him at the head of the pack.

Another Kenyan runner, Visiline Jepkesho, claimed the women's title in 2:25.52, ahead of Ethiopians Gulume Chala and Dinknesh Tefera.

Jepkesho accelerated at the front after 30 kilometers and Chala, who lagged 21 seconds back at the finish, was the only one able to follow her pace.

''My goal was to improve my PB (2:24:44),'' said Jepkesho, a winner in Milan and Lisbon two years ago. ''Unfortunately I didn't succeed but I'm very happy to win. During the race, I was expecting someone to move. But when I saw no one did, I decided to move.''

Despite the high level of threat in the French capital after last November's Paris attacks and the Brussels bombings, more than 40,000 runners took part in the race amid strengthened security and without incident.

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