Chumba and Dibaba take second Tokyo crowns
History was made at the Tokyo Marathon on Sunday, 25 February, when Dickson Chumba and Berhane Dibaba became the first runners ever to win a second title at Asia's only Abbott World Marathon Majors race.
Chumba romped home to reclaim the men's crown he won in the Japanese capital four years ago after pre-race favourite Wilson Kipsang had dropped out early in the race, while Dibaba proved too strong for fellow Ethiopian Ruti Aga in the closing stages and crossed the line just four seconds outside the women's course record.
Dibaba took more than 90 seconds from her personal best as she repeated her 2015 Tokyo victory, clocking 2:19:51 to join the select sub-2:20 club for the first time and move into the top 25 on the world all-time list.
She also leaps to joint fourth in the women's Series XI standings with 25 points, 16 behind leaders Mary Keitany and Tirunesh Dibaba, while Chumba joins five other men at the crowded summit of the men's leaderboard, all on 25 apiece with just two races left.
Meanwhile, Manuela Schär sealed the women's Series XI title with her fourth win from five races and Hiroyuki Yamamoto gave the Japanese fans much to cheer as he sprung a shock to win the men's wheelchair crown for a third time ahead of countryman Tomoki Suzuki.
Kipsang had cruised to the men's course record 12 months ago and was all set for a world record assault on Tokyo's fast new course, but it proved to be a bad day for the former Majors champion who fell behind early in the race and dropped out before the leaders reached 14km.
Chumba made the most of his opportunity, taking a group of six past 30km in 1:20:20 before breaking clear of Kenyan compatriots Amos Kipruto and Gideon Kipketer after 35km. The 31-year-old had finished third in Tokyo for three years in a row and with the favourite gone he wasn't going to let this one slip. He swiftly built an unassailable lead before finishing in 2:05:30.
The real drama was happening behind him, however, as Japan's Yuta Shitara produced a late surge to blaze past Kipruto, Kipketer and Olympic silver medallist Feyisa Lelisa in the final 5km. The largely unknown 26-year-old, who was 11th last year, delighted the home fans as he stole second place in a Japanese record of 2:06:11, taking nearly three minutes from his previous best.
Kipruto hung on the place third in 2:06:33 ahead of Kipketer with Hiroto Inoue bringing more Japanese joy as he ran 2:06:54 for fifth.
*Click here to see the AbbottWMM Series XI Leaderboards.