Paul Lonyangata won the 41st Paris marathon on Sunday with his wife Purity Rionoripo tying up the women’s race to make it a memorable day out for the Kenyan couple in the French capital.
Lonyangata recorded his biggest career win in a time of two hours six minutes and 10 seconds despite losing valuable time when doubling back after missing the penultimate water station.
His compatriot, pre-race favourite Stephen Chebogut, came in second at 2hr 6min 56sec, with Solomon Yego completing the all-Kenyan podium in third at 2hr 7min 13sec.
“I feel good now as my aim was to come here to win,” said Lonyangata who was going one better after taking second in the Paris half-marathon in March.
With Paris bathed in spring sunshine Rionoripo made it a redletter day for the couple, the 23-year-old setting a new record time of 2hr 20min 50sec to smash her personal best by almost four minutes.
The couple’s success put a smile back on the face of Kenyan athletics 48 hours after the shock news of Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong’s failed dope test.
Sumgong was the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold in the marathon when she triumphed in Rio last year.
The 32-year-old, who is also the reigning London Marathon champion, tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO in a test by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in her native Kenya.
Lonyangata, 24, made his decisive move after the 35km marker, surging clear of Chebogut in the Bois de Boulogne to add Paris to his previous marathon wins in Shanghai in 2015 and lisbon two years earlier.
In the women’s race Rionorigo was followed across the line by her compatriot Agnes Barsosio at 2hr 21:02 with Flomena Cheyech (2hr 21:23.) completing the podium.
“I’m so happy, it’s a great day for me to win and to beat my personal best,” said Rionorigo, who had last year’s winner Visiline Jepkesho (fourth) among the more fancied contenders in her slipstream.
She lowered the previous women’s Paris marathon record time set by Ethiopia’s Feyse Tadese of 2hr 21:06 in 2013.
In the men’s race her husband’s winning time was 53sec outside the record established by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele of 2hr 05:04 in 2014.
Britain’s six-time Paralympic champion David Weir tuned up for his career swansong in the London marathon on April 23 with success in Paris.
The 37-year-old wheelchair racer won four gold medals at London 2012 but crashed out of last year’s Rio Games marathon.