PARIS (AP) — Three-time Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia won the Paris marathon Sunday on his debut at the distance.
Bekele completed the 42-kilometre (26-mile) race in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 4 seconds to break the race record set by Stanley Biwott of Kenya in 2012.
Limenih Getachew of Ethiopia finished second, 1:45 behind. Luka Kanda of Kenya placed third.
Flomena Cheyech of Kenya dominated the women’s race in 2:22:44, more than three minutes ahead of Yebrgual Melese of Ethiopia.
Bekele won the gold medal in the 5,000 metres and 10,000 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as the 10,000 at the 2004 Athens Games. He has struggled with injuries over the past few years and hasn’t won a major title since the 2009 world championships in Berlin.
“It’s my first marathon, I don’t have experience before,” Bekele told France 3 television. “It was very tough. Anyway, I made the time I expected.”
The leading group reached the halfway stage in 1:02:09.
Bekele accelerated in the 27th kilometre to break up a small group. Only compatriot Tamirat Tola was able to keep pace with him before dropping three kilometres later.
Bekele had a small scare eight kilometres from the finish as he felt a strain in his left thigh.
“My hamstring muscle was not good,” Bekele said. “It was cramping. I was worried.”
A field of about 42,000 runners started the 38th edition of the Paris race from the Champs Elysees Avenue.