Updated at 8:55 p.m., Sunday, March 4, 2007
Kenyan wins LA Marathon, earns $120,000, car
By Greg Risling
Kororia and another Kenyan, Christopher Kipyego, passed Russian Ramilia Burangolova in the 25th mile, but Mogaka surged ahead of all three and crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 17 minutes and 14 seconds.
''I tried to store energy at the end,'' Mogaka said. ''I wanted to have finishing power.''
Mogaka earned a $100,000 bonus as part of ''The Challenge,'' a battle-of-the-sexes format that allowed the top women to start nearly 20 minutes ahead of the men. The time differential, which gave women a 16:46 head start last year, was chosen by race officials in hopes of creating a close finish.
Mogaka, 28, and Burangolova, 45, each received $20,000 plus a new car for winning their respective divisions.
With Mogaka's win, the men evened the score in ''The Challenge.'' The women had won two of the previous three editions, but they were outmatched this year as 19 men entered the elite field, compared to only six women.
Abebe Tola of Ethiopia broke away early from other elite women and set the pace. The top men stayed together and slowly cut into Tola's lead. To overtake the women, the men had to gain nearly 46 seconds every mile.
By the race's halfway 13-mile mark, Mogaka and three other Kenyans had reduced the gap to under 8 minutes. In the 19th mile, Tola slowed and was passed by an energized Burangolova who won the Miami Marathon in January.
The pack of Kenyan men caught sight of Burangolova in the 21st mile and went by her at the start of the 25th mile, even though at one point the Russian woman had slightly increased her lead. Burangolova crossed the finish line at 2:37:54, 49 seconds behind Mogaka.
The race lacked star quality. Russian Lidiya Grigoryeva and Kenyan Benson Cherono, who set course records in their races last year, did not return to defend their division crowns. Many of the top men and women were running in Los Angeles for the first time and many of their personal best times were at least several minutes slower than the 2006 course records.
Runners also faced a new challenge: the course. For the first time in marathon history, the 26.2-mile race started at Universal Studios at the edge of the San Fernando Valley, and finished in downtown.
The Kenyan men continued their marathon dominance and have won the past nine years in the men's division. Kororia and Kipyego were second and third in the men's division in 2:17:18 and 2:18:21, respectively.
Alena Vinitskaya of Belarus finished second in the women's division in 2:42:54 and Tola placed third in 2:45:16.
In the wheelchair division, Australian Kurt Fearnley won his second Los Angeles Marathon and set a course record with a time of 1:23:40.
''American Idol'' finalist Ace Young performed as thousands of runners crowded the start line at Universal Studios on the edge of the San Fernando Valley under partly cloudy skies and mild temperatures.
Other celebrities involved in the marathon included singer Nick Hexum of the reggae-rock band 311 who ran to raise money for global warming awareness and actor Ken Davitian, best known for his naked wrestling romp in ''Borat,'' who handed out water in front of his restaurant.