East African athletes dominate in the fastest ever Malaga Marathon

Runners cross the Malaga port, with the cathedral and lighthouse in the background.
Runners cross the Malaga port, with the cathedral and lighthouse in the background. / Ñito Salas
  • Ethopian Lemi Dumecha beat the four-year-old record by two minutes while his compatriot Alemu Meseret came out on top among the women

With the sun not yet up at 7am on a Sunday morning, normally there are only two types of people on the streets of Malaga: taxi drivers, bus drivers and refuse collectors; or people on their way home from a night out.

The panorama was slightly different this time as some 5,000 athletes congregated in the central Paseo del Parque, some in fancy dress, ahead of the Malaga Marathon.

This year saw a record number of participants, with 1,500 of those signed up taking part in the new half marathon.

A large number of federated runners lined up this time, as well as runners from all over the world - a sign that the event is growing in prestige every year.

Not only was this the fastest Malaga Marathon on record, a total of five male runners finished with times quicker than the previous record.

Two-time world champion Abel Antón, ambassador of the event said: "It was a great day for many athletes who broke their record times." He also highlighted the very favourable conditions, with not too much heat and very little wind.

The final rankings were dominated by athletes from east Africa with 23-year-old debutant Lemi Dumecha (Ethiopia) winning in the men's category with a time of two hours, 11 minutes and seven seconds.

It was a dramatic ending to the men's race as Eliud Kibet (Kenya) fell within metres of the finishing line and had to crawl across on his hands and knees. As he struggled he was passed by his compatriots Moses Mbugua and Emmanuel Kibet who claimed second and third, respectively.

The first five runners across the line all broke the time set by John Kipkorir, another Kenyan, in 2014 (2h.13:10).

There was less drama in the women's event as Alemu Meseret, also from Ethiopia, came first with a time of 2h.32:20, 25 seconds off the record. Beshadu Bekele (Ethiopia) and Runa Skrove (Norway) made up the podium.

Kamil Jastrzbski came out on top in the half marathon (1h.08:15) while Mónica Ballesteros was the fastest among the women (1h.25:36).

According to Martín Fiz, another of the event's ambassadors, "the city is heading in the right direction". "Malaga Marathon beats Madrid and Barcelona and is closing the gap on Valencia and Seville," he said.