PARIS – Three-time Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia won the Paris Marathon on Sunday in his debut at the distance.
Bekele completed the 42.2-km race in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 3 seconds to break the race record set by Stanley Biwott of Kenya in 2012.
“It was my first marathon and I didn’t have much experience,” said the 31-year-old triple Olympic champion.
“It was very tough but it was the time I expected. After 25 km I pushed alone but it was very tough.”
Limenih Getachew of Ethiopia finished second, 1:45 behind.
Flomena Cheyech of Kenya dominated the women’s race in 2:22:41.
Bekele won the gold medal in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He has struggled with injuries over the past few years and hasn’t won a major title since the 2009 world championships in Berlin.
Bekele emulated his great compatriot Haile Gebreselassie, who also made a successful step from the track to marathon and has the third-fastest time in history.
Bekele made his move with about 25 km to run and opened up a lead that may have been even more significent had he not struggled with what appeared to be a hamstring problem.
“The hamstring wasn’t good after 25 km. It was cramping but it’s OK. I’ll feel it more in the morning,” said Bekele.