Kenya’s Edwin Kiptoo has won the 40th Athens Marathon in a course-record time of 2 hours, 10 minutes and 34 seconds.
The 30-year-old Kiptoo gradually shook off his main challengers, most of them his compatriots, over the second half of the course, running the last 10 kilometers alone.
As Kiptoo was crossing the finish line, about a 100 people in Athens’ Panathenaic stadium unfurled a banner saying “Free Palestine” and waved Palestinian flags. Some spectators also held and waved Palestinian flags along the course.
Kenya’s Rhonzai Lokitam Kilimo came in second at 2:12:36 and Felicien Muhitira of Rwanda was third in the same time, his late charge just failing to edge out Lokitam.
Kenyan runners have won the race 17 times since 2001, including Felix Kandie, who had set the previous record of 2:10:37 in 2014.
Soukaina Atanane of Morocco won the women’s race in 2:31:52, good for 19th overall; Kenya’s Caroline Jepchirchir was runner-up 2:32:19, and Greece’s Gloria Privileggio came in third at 2:43:20.
The Athens Marathon course is hilly, rising almost continously between the 17th and 32nd kilometers before descending most of the rest of the way. This feature does not allow for times close to the world’s best, although a British runner, Bill Adcocks, clocked 2:11:07 in 1969, only about a minute and a half behind the then-record. His time was not improved until Italy’s Stefano Baldini ran 2:10:57 in the 2004 Athens Olympics. Kandie was the next record holder.
The start of the race is near the battlefield where Athenians and their allies beat a far larger Persian army in 490 BC. Legend has it that a messenger who ran the distance to Athens to announce the victory died upon arrival.
The race ends at the Panathenaic Stadium, a marble U-shaped reconstruction of an ancient arena that seats about 80,000 and hosted the track events in the inaugural modern Olympic Games in 1896.
A record 20,322 runners were registered to start at the village of Marathon, beating the previous record of 20,041 set in 2019. Attendance had dropped off by more than half in the first two races held after the coronavirus pandemic, in 2021 and 2022. The 2020 edition was canceled.