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Milaw and Biruk Score ASICS Stockholm Marathon Ethiopian Double

Abrha Milaw and formerly Japan-based Konjit Tilahun Biruk scored an Ethiopian double at the 2017 ASICS Stockholm Marathon, both pulling away from packs late in the race to win in 2:11:36 and 2:35:45. (video highlights above)

The men's race went out hotter than planned, going through the mostly downhill and flat first 5 km in 15:10 and the uphill-heavy next 5 km in 15:20, mid-2:08 pace on a course with a 2:10:58 record. Things calmed down over the next 10 km, putting the front end of the group at 1:04:56 at halfway, but with a slight surge up front on a gentle downhill leading to the halfway mark Japanese favorite Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) began to drift off the back of the pack. By 25 km he was over 10 seconds behind and backwardly mobile as the race progressed.

Another surge coming off the large bridge near 34 km broke up the remaining pack, Milaw putting more than 30 seconds on 2nd-place Samuel Getachew (Ethiopia) by 40 km and cruising in unchallenged to win in 2:11:36, the second-fastest winning time in event history. Getachew held on to 2nd in 2:12:27 less than 10 seconds ahead of 3rd-placer Samuel Kalalel (Kenya). As far back as 15th place at the low point of his race, Kawauchi rallied with his characteristic finish to take 6th in 2:14:04, running down 2015 Beijing World Championships 5th-placer Shumi Dechasa (Bahrain) with less than 3 km to go. "I'm really disappointed with my time and place, but I was able to keep pushing through when it got tough and I met my minimum goal of beating Dechasa, so it wasn't all bad," he told JRN post-race. "I wanted to leave a better record in the books here in Stockholm where Japanese marathoning was born at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, so I have to come back and try to achieve that next time."

The women's race also went out faster than expected, on 2:32 pace in the early going before slowing to more reasonable 2:36 territory. At halfway it was a group of five in 1:18:00, Biruk with countrywomen Belaynesh Shifera and Tiruwork Mekonen, Kenyan Alice Kibor, and Japan's Yoshiko Sakamoto (Y.W.C.). Like Kawauchi, Sakamoto slipped off the back on the hilly park section after halfway, 9 seconds behind at 25 km and fading.

The remaining four stayed together until after 35 km when Biruk surged to win by 15 seconds. Shifera was next in 2:36:00 with Kibor stopping it from being an Ethiopian sweep as she took 3rd in 2:36:19. Sakamoto was 5th in 2:41:34, her slowest international time to date in five marathons abroad. "I changed my training up this time to focus on more speedwork," she told JRN post-race. "This is what happens."

39th ASICS Stockholm Marathon
Stockholm, Sweden, 6/3/17
click here for complete results

Men
1. Abrha Milaw (Ethiopia) - 2:11:36
2. Samuel Getachew (Ethiopia) - 2:12:27
3. Samuel Kalalel (Kenya) - 2:12:36
4. Daniel Yator (Kenya) - 2:13:13
5. Mike Mutai (Kenya) - 2:13:22
6. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:14:04
7. Eric Kering (Kenya) - 2:15:15
8. Shumi Dechasa (Bahrain) - 2:15:35
9. John Kemboi (Kenya) - 2:16:19
10. Abdellatif Meftah (France) - 2:16:52

Women
1. Konjit Tilahun Biruk (Ethiopia) - 2:35:45
2. Belaynesh Shifera (Ethiopia) - 2:36:00
3. Alice Kibor (Kenya) - 2:36:19
4. Tiruwork Mekonen (Ethiopia) - 2:37:03
5. Yoshiko Sakamoto (Japan/YWC) - 2:41:34
6. Mikaela Larsson (Sweden) - 2:42:21
7. Lisa Ring (Sweden) - 2:43:14
8. Charlotte Karlsson (Sweden) - 2:45:21
9. Ida-Marie Nicklesson (Sweden) - 2:45:30
10. Karoline Moen Guidon (Norway) - 2:46:04

photos and text © 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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