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Mai Tagami Wins Athens Classic Marathon

by Brett Larner

Mai Tagami, a protege of legendary coach Yoshio Koide, won the 2008 Athens Classic Marathon on Nov. 9, breaking away early in the second half to win by a margin of nearly four minutes. An early pack of five runners ran together for the first quarter of the race. By the halfway point the lead pack was down to only Tagami and Russian Elena Tikhonova, both of whom clocked 1:19:17 for the half marathon split. Tagami attacked shortly thereafter, pulling away from Tikhonova, who was in turn overtaken by Greece's top runner of the day, Georgia Ampatzidou. Tagami had a lead of 25 seconds over Ampatzidou at 30 km, with Tikhonova another 21 seconds back. Tagami ran a negative split to finish in 2:36:58, far off Mizuki Noguchi's course record of 2:26:20 from the Athens Olympics but sufficient to defeat her European rivals. Tikhonova rallied to retake Ampatzidou, finishing eight seconds ahead of the Greek in 2:40:45.

In the men's race, Yoshiyuki Suetsugu ran in the lead pack of ten through the halfway point, clocking a half marathon split of 1:07:02. Suetsugu faded to 8th but retook Kenyan Chebet Elias Kipkosgei to finish 7th with a time of 2:17:10.

Complete women's results are available here. Men's results are here.

The IAAF's report on the Athens Classic Marathon is located here.

(c) 2008 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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