By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Tamirat Tola led a 1-2 finish by Ethiopia in the men’s marathon at the world championships on Sunday, opening a wide lead late in the race and cruising through the finish line.
Tola finished in a championship-record time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 36 seconds on the fast and flat course that featured plenty of scenic views to soak in. Teammate Mosinet Geremew held on for silver, finishing 68 seconds behind Tola. Bashir Abdi of Belgium captured bronze.
Tola never glanced back after pulling away from the pack.
Well, maybe a few times. But the 30-year-old never saw anyone trying to catch up as the 2017 world silver medalist kept building and building on his lead. The previous championship record was 2:06:54 set by Abel Kirui of Kenya at the 2009 world championships in Berlin.
Defending world champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopa tried to keep up before dropping out. U.S. runner and University of Oregon standout Galen Rupp was in the lead group for much of the race before dropping back and finishing 19th.
The runners were able to push pace with the temperature hovering at a comfortable 57 degrees Fahrenheit (13.9 Celsius) and cloud cover. That’s quite a contrast to the conditions in Doha in 2019 when the men’s race was held at midnight to avoid the searing heat. The temperature was still around 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celsius).
After a slight delay, 1972 Olympic marathon champion Frank Shorter signaled the start of the race that sent the runners along a three-loop course that finished in front of the University of Oregon’s Autzen Stadium. The route wound through the cities of Eugene and Springfield.
The course crossed over the Willamette River and ventured alongside Pre’s Trail, the bark running trail that’s named in honor of University of Oregon running icon Steve Prefontaine, who died in a car accident in 1975.
The field was missing Kengo Suzuki after the Japanese team had a few cases of positive tests for COVID-19. Also not racing was Kenyan marathoner Lawrence Cherono, who was provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit after testing positive for a banned substance used to treat chest pain resulting from lack of blood supply and oxygen to the heart.
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