The 2014 World Marathon Majors series got off to a flying start yesterday when Dickson Chumba claimed first place in the Tokyo marathon in a new course record of 2:05:42. The Kenyan led home an international field of 36,000 under cloudy skies at the 8th staging of the race. The women's record was also lowered; Ethiopia's Tirfi Tsegaye winning in 2:22:23.
Pre-race Tadese Tola of Ethiopia had said: "I have been talking with my friends about breaking the course record and I am sure I can do it." The Ethiopian was as good as his word clocking 2:05:57, almost a minute quicker that Dennis Kimetto's 2013 time. Crucially though Tola's 2:05:57 was 15 seconds slower than Chumba. Ethiopian Sammy Kitwara took third spot in 2:06:30.
Ethiopians were also prominent in the women's race with Berhane Dibaba chasing her compatriot Tsegaye to finish a close second in 2:22:30 with Lucy Kabuu of Kenya third (2:24:16).
The 36,000 Tokyo Marathon participants were the fortunate ones as over ten times that number submitted entries for the event. 96% of the starters completed the race including Jaume Soler from New York City. He tweeted: "Nice weather, warm and cheerful crowd, and great course!" Other comments included: "They put on a great race. And their people are all class and grace! Thanks, Tokyo!"
The Majors series resumes in April at London on the 13th where a dramatic renewal is anticipated with Mo Farah's marathon debut and a high class field certain. The following weekend (Monday 21 April) sees a poignant running of the Boston Marathon, 12 months after 2013's terrorist-scarred event.