February 12, 2017 - Melaku Belachew smashed the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon race record to win the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday (12).
The 27-year-old took more than two minutes from his PB to win in 2:10:31, improving the race record by 56 seconds. Compatriot Gulume Tollesa made it an Ethiopian double, winning the women’s race in 2:33:39.
On a day of perfect conditions for distance running, the men’s race came alive in the final 10 kilometres. It started with a conservative opening 10km of 31:58 before the pace picked up with 15km being reached in 47:03.
“Last year was very bad,” laughed Bizuneh Melaku Belachew, one of the bedraggled thousands who took part in the 2016 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon. “But I feel very good today!”
As well he might. The Ethiopian danced a jig on the finish line after breaking the event record with a finishing time of two hours 10 minutes and 31 seconds.
With it, he landed a cheque for US$65,000 (HK$504,000) – along with a bonus of US$5,000 (HK$38,000) for finishing under 2:12:00.
Belachew and Julius Kipyego of Kenya broke away from the chasing pack coming out of the Western Harbour Tunnel and battled side by side most of the way to Victoria Park before the Ethiopian burned off his rival around the 40km mark. Another Ethiopian, Chala Adguna Bekele, was a distant third (2:11:32).