Champ smashes her own record

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

Asmae Leghzaoui says she's starting to be recognized around Ottawa.

Of course, when you're first down the stretch at the Ottawa Marathon and setting a personal and course record in the process, it's easy to stand out.

The 32-year-old Moroccan successfully defended her Ottawa Marathon title yesterday, denying Toronto's Lioudmila Kortchaguina's bid for a record fifth win in the event.

"The people were yelling, 'Go, Asmae, go Morocco!' " said Leghzaoui after her victory in two hours, 27 minutes, 41 seconds. "The people know me and I'm happy for that."

She smashed the record she set last year (2:28:44) by more than a minute.

Leghzaoui thought her time could have been even better, but for two factors: The race got off to a blistering pace in the first 5K, the expenditure of energy taking its toll on the competitors later in the race, and then the blustery conditions made the inward half of the marathon a grind.

"Everybody ran too fast (for the first 5K)," said the 37-year-old Kortchaguina, "and only one survived."

'Suffered' with pace

The women went through the first 10K in just under 35 minutes.

"She suffered," said Leghzaoui's husband, Mohammed Ar-Ar, who finished 13th in the men's race.

Kortchaguina added a second, second-place finish to her four Ottawa Marathon crowns -- a record she now holds with men's champion David Cheruiyot of Kenya.

Originally from Russia, Kortchaguina is now a Canadian citizen and claimed the Canadian Marathon Championship title yesterday.

"I wanted to be first, but it is what it is," she said. "(Leghzaoui's) too fast for me. I don't know what to say, but she's fast. She did her job."

Irene Jerotich Kosgei of Kenya was third in 2:34:28. Heather Gallagher of Ottawa was the top local finisher in 2:56:16, good for 12th place. Renfrew's Colleen Berry was 17th with a time of 3:06:52.


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