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Abitova blasts field in Yokohama

Kyodo

Inga Abitova of Russia upstaged the top two finishers at the 2008 Beijing Olympics to win the inaugural Yokohama Women’s Marathon on Sunday.

Abitova pulled away from the leading pack past the 30-km mark en route to victory in 2 hours, 27 minutes, 18 seconds.

Kiyoko Shimahara finished a distant second in 2:28:51 and Olympic silver medalist Catherine Ndereba followed in 2:29:13. Romania’s Olympic champion Constantina Dita dropped out of contention early and finished 11th in 2:36:06.

“I feel like I won a race against myself, rather than a race against the Olympic medalists,” the 27-year-old Abitova said after winning her second career marathon title.

Abitova won the Belgrade Marathon in 2005 and finished sixth in the 10,000 meters at the Beijing Olympics.

Ndereba ran out of steam as the race wound down and Shimahara, the Hokkaido Marathon winner in August, caught the 37-year-old Kenyan with six km left before pulling away.

“I wanted to win this race, but I couldn’t keep up when Abitova upped her pace,” Shimahara said. “In the race for second place, I just tried to run at my own pace regardless of Ndereba’s change of gear.”

Italy’s Bruna Genovese placed fourth in 2:29:57. Miki Ohira was fifth in 2:30:22.

The race, which has replaced the 30-year-old Tokyo International Women’s Marathon, doubled as a selection event for Japanese marathoners for the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.