Jemal Yimer and Stacy Nwida win – and she gets bonus – The Mercury News


LOS ANGELES — Jemal Yimer patiently waited until nearly two hours into the 38th Los Angeles Marathon to make his move. That’s when the 26-year-old Ethiopian decided to break away from the pack at mile 23, on his way to winning by almost a minute in a time of 2 hours, 13 minutes and 13 seconds.

The 26.2-mile course, which started at Dodger Stadium and wound through downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Century City, ended with a jubilant punch from Yimer as he broke the ribbon.

“It’s a good race. I’m happy today,” said Yimer. “Thank you so much, Los Angeles.”

Kenyan Stacy Ndiwa, 30, not only won the women’s race in 2 hours and 31 minutes, her personal best. She earned a $10,000 bonus by holding off a late charge from Yimer to be the first person to cross the finish line in the marathon chase challenge. The time differential for the marathon chase challenge was set to 18 minutes and 19 seconds.

“I was so prepared for this race,” said Ndiwa.

His trainer, Haron Lagat, said the additional prize money meant the world to Ndiwa.

“As soon as I told her… she started crying because I know what she’s been through,” Lagat said. “She lost her (racing) contract a few years ago when she had a baby. I think companies shouldn’t cut women. When you have a baby they should let you keep your contract because men are having babies too. Why aren’t they cutting men?

Lagat said Ndiwa’s win was a statement in the marathon, especially as it was his trip to the US.

“The name itself, LA, is very important,” added Lagat. “When you win LA, when you’re an LA champion, everybody knows LA, so really the most important part is the city. I feel this event should be much bigger than it is.”

The men’s race dropped to a pack of six runners before mile 2, including Yimmer, who was among the leaders from start to finish.

At halfway through the race, five riders were still in contention: Kenyans Emanuel Ngatuny, Thomas Rono and Barnaba Kipkoech, and Ethiopians Yemane Tsegay and Yimer.

Tsegay, 37, finished second with a time of 2:14:06. Kipkoech, 29, finished third with a time of 2:14:27.

The Los Angeles Marathon was also an excellent opportunity for Americans to seek a qualifying time for the 2024 US Olympic Marathon Trials, which will be held on February 3, 2024, in Orlando, Florida.

Men needed to run 2:18 or faster. Women needed to run 2:37 or faster.

The fastest American was Hosava Kretzmann of Flagstaff, Arizona. Kretzmann, 28, finished sixth in 2:19:55.

“It was tough,” Kretzmann said. “The hills are always difficult. This was my first marathon as well. So I didn’t expect any of that. I expected it to be flatter, but I just got out and tried to hold on.

Kretzmann said that after making his marathon debut, he’ll keep pushing for 2 hours and 18 minutes or faster.

“That’s what I was shooting for today,” Kretzmann said. “I thought it would be a piece of cake, but taking this course is difficult. Hill after hill, you never know what’s going to happen. I haven’t really looked at the course so I didn’t know what to expect. I just wanted to run into it with an open mind. I am happy to be here.”

The fastest local runner was Jason Yang of Los Angeles. The 22-year-old finished ninth in 2:27:57.

Meanwhile, the women’s race was down to just three runners before mile 6: Kenya’s Grace Kahura and Martha Akeno and Ndiwa.

Only Ndiwa and Akeno were in contention at mile 10. Nwida broke through at mile 19 along Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City and never looked back.

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