Rono and Kim top JoongAng Seoul Marathon

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Rono and Kim top JoongAng Seoul Marathon


From left, Thomas Kiplagat Rono of Kenya, Shim Jung-sub and Kim Do-yeon cross the finish line at the JoongAng Seoul International Marathon on Sunday. [YONHAP]

Thomas Kiplagat Rono of Kenya won his first international event at the JoongAng Seoul Marathon on Sunday, while Kim Do-yeon of Korea set a personal record finishing first in the women’s race.

The event, sponsored by the JoongAng Ilbo, began at the Jamsil Sports Complex and moved through southern Seoul, passing by the neighborhoods of Suseo-dong and Dunchon-dong before returning to Jamsil.

Kim Do-yeon won the women’s elite race with a personal best of 2 hours 31 minutes and 24 seconds, finishing 17 minutes ahead of runner-up Kim Seon-jeong. Kim’s victory earned her 10 million won ($9,000) in prize money.

This was Kim’s second time running a full marathon. The 24-year-old runner mainly competes in 5-kilometer (3-mile) races. Last year was her first time running the JoongAng Seoul International Marathon.

The Korean record in women’s marathon is held by Kwon Eun-ju, who finished the 1997 Chuncheon Marathon in 2 hours 26 minutes and 12 seconds.

“I wasn’t able to train for about three weeks from a calf injury while preparing for this event,” Kim said. “I wasn’t able to run more aggressive race because I felt a muscle pain in my calf at around the 17-kilometer point.”

Kim, who started running track in eighth grade while attending Seoul Physical Education Middle School, is famous in Korean long-distance track and field. Recently, she set a new Korean record in 5K, finishing a race in 15:34.17, four seconds ahead of the previous record.

“There had been stories that track in Korea is in a slump,” Kim said. “Since I have broken the Korean record in 5K, I now want to set another Korean record in 10K and marathon running. I plan to break it at the Asian Games next year.”

In the men’s international elite race, Rono finished in 2 hours 9 minutes and 13 seconds. This was also his second time participating in the JoongAng Marathon. During his last race in 2014, the 34-year-old runner finished third in 2:07:52.

Sunday’s victory was his first in an international marathon and earned him $50,000.

In the Korean men’s elite race, Shim Jung-sub topped the pack with a time of 2:15:43. Since the Rio Olympics in 2016, Shim, 26, has been working on bringing up his physical condition to improve his record. At the Summer Games, he finished a dismal 138th out of 140 runners.

As the top finisher in the Korean men’s race, Shim received 10 million won in prize money.

“At the Gunsan Saemangeum International Marathon in April, I had my condition up to the level where I could expect my time to be within 2 hours and 10 minutes, but I had to withdraw during the race due to an injury,” Shim said. “It wasn’t until September when I started training for the JoongAng Marathon. I’m not satisfied with the record, but considering the short preparation time, I have more expectations for myself than regrets.”

A total of 17,015 runners participated in this year’s JoongAng Seoul International Marathon, which was first held in 1999. The number of participants has been increasing in recent years with more people in their 20s and 30s participating.

Registered athletes in the International Association of Athletics Federations and its Korean counterpart can compete in the elite races.

The event also includes a shorter race for participants in wheelchairs and a 10K that was added last year.

The number of teams participating in the 10K increased this year to 214 from 198 last year.

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