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Larsson and Kiptui Survive Scorching Stockholm Marathon


Record-breaking temperatures around 30 degrees prevented the kinds of times organizers hoped a new course would deliver for the Stockholm Marathon's 40th running, with Mikaela Larsson (Sweden) and Lawi Kiptui (Kenya) proving the toughest in the heat with wins in 2:40:28 and 2:13:30.

Defending women's champ Konjit Tilahun Biruk was part of an Ethiopian trio that went out on 2:35 pace, Larsson holding back with seven-time winner Isabellah Andersson (Sweden) at a slightly more conservative 2:37 pace. The front group soon stalled, and just past 15 km the Sweden pair made contact. For the next 10 km the new lead group stuck together, but as the race wore on the heat proved too much and they dropped away one by one. By 30 km Larsson had a clear lead and ran on alone to take the top spot in front of a delighted home crowd inside Stockholm's 1912 Olympic Stadium.

Beji Bekelu (Ethiopia) held on to 2nd in 2:43:55, but Andersson was run down by another Swedish runner, Caroline Almkvist, who started slower and caught her late in the race for 3rd, 2:44:49 to 2:44:59. 5th last year, Japan's Yoshiko Sakamoto (YWC) struggled with the heat from the early going and was never a factor.

The men's race went out on 2:14 pace with Houston Marathon winner Bazu Worku (Ethiopia), Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and others in tow behind two pacers. At 15 km Worku made a bizarre move, throwing in a 14:51 split to open a lead of almost two minutes over the rest of the pack. Just over 15 km later he dropped out after slowing to over 4:00/km. For his part Kawauchi was unable to deal with the conditions, losing touch on an uphill after 10 km and almost a minute behind the main pack at halfway.

Unfazed by Worku's choice of tactics, Kiptui waited until the hilliest section of the course near 30 km to make a move of his own. Ratcheting up his pace over the rolling terrain, Kiptui split 15:14 and 15:07 for the next two 5 km segments and finished hard for the win in 2:13:30 just seconds off his PB and a solid 1:07:52/1:05:38 negative split.


For the rest of the field it was a game of sheer survival. Six of the seven Ethiopian men dropped out. Dominic Kimwetich Kangor and Stephen Kiplimo were left far behind by Kiptui's incredible finish but made it a Kenyan sweep of the podium in 2:16:22 and 2:17:01 for 2nd and 3rd. In 12th at halfway, Kawauchi gutted out a 4th-place finish despite continually slowing down, crossing the line in 2:22:57. Almost 9 minutes slower than his 6th-place performance in Stockholm last year, it was the second-slowest of his 82 marathons to date. "That was hot," he said post-race. "I'm definitely not going to run the Tokyo Olympic trials after this. I liked the new course, though. If we'd had the kind of weather we had last year it would have gone a lot better."

40th Stockholm Marathon

Stockholm, Sweden, 6/2/18
click here for complete results

Women
1. Mikaela Larsson (Sweden) - 2:40:28
2. Beji Bekelu (Ethiopia) - 2:43:55
3. Caroline Almkvist (Sweden) - 2:44:49
4. Isabellah Andersson (Sweden) - 2:44:59
5. Ellen Persson (Sweden) - 2:45:07
6. Hanna Vandenbussche (Belgium) - 2:46:06
7. Ida-Maria Nicklasson (Sweden) - 2:47:20
8. Kojit Tilahun Biruk (Ethiopia) - 2:48:54
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44. Yoshiko Sakamoto (Japan/YWC) - 3:16:41
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DNF - Kumeshi Sichala (Ethiopia)
DNF - Zsofia Erdelyi (Hungary)

Men
1. Lawi Kiptui (Kenya) - 2:13:30
2. Dominic Kimwetich Kangor (Kenya) - 2:16:22
3. Stephen Kiplimo (Kenya) - 2:17:01
4. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:22:57
5. Abebe Hunde (Ethiopia) - 2:27:34
6. Mustafa Mohamed (Sweden) - 2:27:39
7. Felix Kipkemboi Keny (Kenya) - 2:28:08
8. John Musee Muthui (Kenya) - 2:29:14
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DNF - Bazu Worku (Ethiopia)
DNF - Alebachew Wale (Ethiopia)
DNF - Samuel Getachew (Ethiopia)
DNF - Belay Assefa (Ethiopia)
DNF - Workneh Tiruneh (Ethiopia)
DNF - Urgessa Kedir (Ethiopia)

text and photos © 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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