Runner full of surprises

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

For once, somebody pulled a fast one outside of City Hall.

Keneth Mungara of Kenya captured the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon yesterday, crossing the finish line outside City Hall in a record two hours, eight minutes and 31 seconds.

The victory was the second in a row in Toronto for Mungara, and a personal best by almost two minutes. It was also the fastest marathon run on Canadian soil.

The Kenyan was pleasantly surprised with his time, given that the conditions were not ideal -- some wind and high humidity. Mungara was also a little worried that a knee injury suffered earlier this season in Prague would act up again.

SIZZLING PACE

"It was a surprise," Mungara said of his time. "I didn't believe the clock when I came to the finish line."

Mungara trailed a pair of Ethopians, Chala Lemi and Gashaw Asfaw, throughout much of the race. The top runners set a sizzling pace early and appeared to be running at a sub-2:08 time until the race's final pacemaker, Paul Kimugul, fell at the 29-kilometre mark and hurt his knee.

After that, the pace slowed, until Asfaw made a move at about 32k and Lemi broke away about three kilometres later. At about the 40k mark, Mungara caught the pair and broke away.

All three finished under 2:10, with Lemi crossing the line in 2:08.48 and Asfaw in 2:09.22. The top Canadian was David Jackson of Victoria, who placed 13th in 2:24.03.

Mungara, who has won four of his past five marathons, took home close to $75,000, which included $20,000 for winning the race, an additional $20,000 for setting a course record, $10,000 for running a sub-2:09 as well as various appearance fees and bonuses.

Amane Gobena of Ethiopia won the women's race in 2:28.30, passing second-place finisher Mulu Seboka, last year's champion, at about the 40k mark. It was only the third marathon for Gobena, and her first victory in the distance.

It appeared as if the Ethiopian was destined for also-ran status as she trailed her compatriots, Seboka and Haile Kebebush, by 40 metres at the 33k mark.

Gobena knew she was in for a big day, believing a time of 2:22 was possible, but developed stomach problems late in the race. Seboka finished second in 2:29.37 and Kebebuch third in 2:30.47. The top Canadian was Krista Duchene of Brantford, who was eighth in 2:50.36.

Just before Gobena crossed the line to win the women's marathon, Toronto mayor David Miller finished the half-marathon.

"Does anybody have oxygen?" Miller gasped, after he crossed the line. "This was my warmup to a long sleep."

Interestingly, Miller announced earlier this week that he wouldn't be "running." But there he was yesterday, crossing the line just to the east of his office.

"There was a little language confusion on that," Miller laughed, reiterating that he wouldn't be running for re-election next year.

Close to 20,000 runners from 40 nations took part in the marathon, half-marathon and 5k race, raising $1.8 million for charity as the event celebrated its 20th anniversary.

"Look at our city," Miller said. "These are the kind of days that you're proud of Toronto."

STEVE.BUFFERY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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