Bett Kimutai wins memorable marathon

Raymond Bett Kimutai from Kenya was the winner of the 28th Athens Classic Marathon with a new record for the race on Sunday in an historic event that went smoothly and successfully despite record participation. On the anniversary of the 2,500 years since the Battle of Marathon, the race featured no fewer than 12,500 runners, in what was by far the biggest turnout for the ACM. Bett Kimutai was the first to enter the sun-drenched Panathenaic Stadium just after 11.10 a.m., clocking a time of two hours, 12 minutes and 40 seconds, two seconds faster than the previous race record set by fellow Kenyan Paul Lekuraa in 2008. But the course record by Stefano Baldini from the 2004 Olympics (2:10:55) still stands. «This is an amazing feeling for me because it is the first time I have won a marathon,» said 26-year-old Bett Kimutai. «The course is very different to other marathons, with some difficult hills and lots of climbing. It is very tough but it is a great course and a different feeling to run here. I hope they invite me again next season so I can set a new course record.» Last year’s ACM winner, Jonathan Kosgei Kipkorir, was second, with Edwin Kimutai in third, completing an all-Kenyan podium. Winning the women’s race was Lithuania’s Rasa Drazdauskaite who also set a new race record clocking 2:31:06. She said this race was different due to the heat. Michalis Farmakis was the first Greek to complete the men’s race, finishing 15th overall with a time of 2:20:12, thereby also winning the national championship. Dimitris Theodorakakos was second (18th overall) and Constantinos Poulios came third (24th). A tearful Farmakis said: «I am unbelievably moved; I have been fighting for the last 16 years. Today I had problems with my thigh, but I managed to finish and win. Greek winners are capable of big things.» Tina Kefala won the women’s national championship, finishing at a time of 2:40:36. In total 3,000 Greek men and women took part in the race, which is also a record, on the anniversary of 2,500 years since the Greek victory over the Persian army in 490 BC. Some 8,000 people took part in the other races, those of the 5 kilometer, 10 kilometer and the power walk, including Prime Minister George Papandreou who managed to finish the 10 kilometer race. Yesterday’s succesful organization served to advertise Athens, its marathon race and Greece in general across the world, given the prominence of this year’s event due to the commemoration of the historic battle and in being included among the 25 IAAF Gold Label Races of the year. There were some 25,000 people in the stands at the Panathenaic Stadium in central Athens and an estimated 20,000 lining the streets where the race took place. Some 1,800 people served as the race’s volunteers. The event was also graced by the presence of a number of former runners and course winners such as Rosa Mota, Ron Hill, Constantina Tomescu Dita and Abel Anton.