Wherever Haile Gebrselassie goes, the world of running wants to hear the thoughts of the now retired great athlete who has won two Olympic gold medals, many world titles and set world records on the track and the road up to the marathon. When he arrived in Athens to receive last Friday (11/11) a Lifetime Achievement award presented by AIMS, the Association of International Marathons and Road Races, the interest in the newly elected president of Ethiopian Athletics was just as great.


In a dramatic closing sequence Luka Rotich overhauled his fellow Kenyan and long-time race leader Benson Kipruto to take a winning advantage in the 34th edition of the Athens Marathon. The Authentic with only one kilometre left to run. In warm and often windy conditions the 28-year-old won in 2:12:49 ahead of Kipruto\\\'s 2:13:24. Completing the more familiar tale of a Kenyan clean sweep, Andrew Kimtai finished third in 2:13:26. The elite women\\\'s field also produced a Kenyan winner and a debutant at that: Nancy Arusei overcame the tough course for an impressive run in 2:38:13 with the 30-year-old finishing ahead of Algeria\\\'s Kenza Dahmani in 2:38:28 and Ourania Rebouli of Greece taking a distant third place in 2:49:24.

The Athens Marathon, held over the unique original course from the small coastal town of Marathon and finishing in the Panathinaic Stadium in Athens, had a record entry of 17,500 runners. Taking into account the 5 and 10km races held in conjunction, the Greek Athletics Federation (SEGAS) noted another record with around 50,000 athletes participating. Before the eventual winner ran into the marble arena of the Panathinaic Stadium, a ceremony celebrated the 120th anniversary since the first Olympic Marathon race. It was on the same course as the 2016 event was held today, finishing in the very same stadium in 1896.

The Athens Marathon. The Authentic is part of the history of dramatic Athens Marathon races, including the Olympic events of 1896 and 2004. When the six-strong leading men\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s group reached the highest point in the course at 31 kilometres - around 250 metres above sea level - it had been clear for some time that the course record of 2:10:37 in such windy conditions was going to remain out of reach.

Instead of an attack on the course record the race became a dramatic contest experienced by the many spectators lining the road for the latter stages. Shortly after the course dropped steeply down towards Athens just after 31km Benson Kipruto went clear of his rivals. At the same time Hillary Yego of Kenya, the 2013 Athens champion, dropped off the pace. His compatriot Augustine Ronoh, who had a best of 2:07:23 and was the fastest in the field, had lost contact before.

The 25-year-old Kipruto was running his debut marathon and looked as if he was about to celebrate with a victory. Five kilometres before the finish he led by 40 seconds ahead of a trio comprising Luka Rotich, Andrew Kimtai and Bernard Kitur. Only Rotich had enough left in the tank to summon up one last effort and close the gap on Kipruto.

Rotich caught the slowing Kipruto just over a kilometre before the finish. \\\"I felt good until 41 kilometres but then it became really hard. But I am happy with my debut\\\" said Kipruto. \\\"It was hard to stay with the pace. But at the end I still had enough left to run fast\\\" reflected Luka Rotich, whose best time remains 2:08:12. \\\"I think on a flat course I would have definitely run under 2:10 today and perhaps 2:06 or 2:07.\\\"

The women\\\'s race quickly developed into a duel between Nancy Arusei and her Kenyan compatriot Penina Wanjiru with the latter considered one of the pre-race favourites. The Kenyans Gladys Kwambai and Purity Kimetto were dropped soon after 10km, right at the start of the long climb. It was Nancy Arusei who led with Penina Wanjiru behind her. Wanjiru was then dropped as well.

At the end the debutant was the one to falter as Kenza Dahmani reduced the deficit yet the Algerian was not able to overtake the Kenyan. \\\"I never thought before the race that I could win it. I only believed it after 40 kilometres\\\" said Nancy Arusei.

Results, Men:
1. Luka Rotich KEN 2:12:49
2. Benson Kipruto KEN 2:13:24
3. Andrew Kimtai KEN 2:13:26
4. Benard Kitur KEN 2:13:32
5. Silas Limo KEN 2:16:34
6. Alfred Cherop KEN 2:17:37
7. Hillary Yego KEN 2:18:37

1. Nancy Arusei KEN 2:38:13
2. Kenza Dahmani ALG 2:38:28
3. Ourania Rebouli GRE 2:49:24



Reigning Olympic Champions Eliud Kipchoge and Jemima Sumgong will receive 2016 AIMS Best Marathon Runner Awards (BMR); Haile Gebrselassie will receive 2016 AIMS Lifetime Achievement Award

Hillary Yego caused a major surprise three years ago with his victory in the Athens Marathon. The Kenyan ran 2:13:51 on the tough course which was the original 1896 route leading from the town of Marathon to the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. Now Yego is returning to the "Athens Marathon. The Authentic" and will be among the favourites for the title next Sunday.

No marathon runner has ever broken 2:10 on the historic course in Athens. This is the target which the elite men have set themselves on Sunday for the 34th edition of the "Athens Marathon. The Authentic.“ A group of leading Kenyan runners with Luka Rotich at their head, are planning a race tempo to achieve exactly that. But while international results these days frequently feature times of under 2:05 on the fastest courses, Athens presents a course like no other.

Technology and innovation at the disposal of the Athens Marathon participants; the amazing mobile application of the 34th Athens Marathon is here to offer the most authentic experience to those that wish to “follow” their friends and family members running, as well as useful information to the runners themselves.

Are you a runner? Is your friend running? Do you just want to keep track with the authentic action in real time (live tracking) on your mobile device? The only thing you have to do is download and install at your smart phone, tablet, and/or personal computer, the official Athens Marathon application, “Athens Marathon. The Authentic powered by MyLaps”, available for iOS and Android.