By David Monti.
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

March 6, 2011

PARIS -- On a beautiful morning here with the warm sun softening winter's lingering chill, Kenya's Peninah Arusei ran the fastest-ever time for a woman at the Semi-Marathon de Paris, prevailing in a two-up sprint against compatriot Philes Ongori.  Arusei, 32, wearing green and black adidas kit, clocked 1:08:30, shattering Alina Tecuta's 1997 course record of 1:09:37 by over a minute.  She earned her entire two-second margin over Ongori in just the last 200 meters in the Bois de Vincennes.

Arusei, who has a half-marathon personal best of 1:07:48, decided from the beginning of the race that she would try to win.  She clipped through the first 10 km in about 32 minutes, all the time running with Ongori.  She felt strong.

"I decided from starting to move," explained Arusei holding the massive winner's trophy with her left arm and a huge bouquet of flowers with her right.  "I see that it is very cold and maybe when I reach halfway I can win it."

Coming into the finish with the grand Chateau Vincennes in the distance, Arusei stretched out her stride.  She looked back once for Ongori, and began to smile because she knew the gap was enough.  She also said she liked the course, which runs west before turning around at the Eiffel Tower to come back to the expansive park on the east side of the Seine.

"The route is very nice, and the people were very good," said Arusei who won 4000 euros in prize money.  "I am very happy (to get the course record)."

The men took a more tactical approach to today's race.  The lead pack hit the 10 km mark in a conservative 29:29, effectively deciding to fight it out in the latter stages of the race.  Kenyan Stephen Kibet, the winner of the half-marathon in Lisbon last October in a personal best 1:00:09, pulled away from his rivals in the final kilometer, clocking 1:01:36.  Race favorite, Moses Mosop, finished 11 seconds behind, and another Kenyan, Eric Ndiema, got third another two seconds back.

"Very good.  Very, very good," Kibet said of how he felt today.  "I didn't know that I would win because there were good men like Mosop and (Abel) Kirui (who finished seventh), but I trained enough.  I was in shape.  I expected to run even faster than this today."

Besides recording a record 30,000 entrants for today's race, the organizers had something else to celebrate.  Frenchman Denis Mayaud, 24, made a successful debut at the distance, clocking 1:03:36 in ninth place.  Apparently, wearing bib number 13 did not bring him bad luck.


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