XIAMEN, China, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian runners swept the top three spots in both men's and women's events at the 2018 Xiamen Marathon here on Sunday.
Dejene Debela, placed fourth in 2017 Eindhoven Marathon, claimed the men's title in 2 hours 11 minutes and 22 seconds. His compatriot Fatuma Sado Dergo won the women's crown in 2 :26:41.
Over 30,000 runners from 42 countries and regions took part in the first IAAF Gold Label Road Race of the new year, as the organizing committee has invited 25 high level athletes from Kenya, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Belarus, the United States, Lithuania for the annual event.
The runners challenged the heavy rain pouring down throughout the course. With the last edition encountering the rainstorm 12 years ago, the organizing committee switched the event from March to January in 2008, and it's the first time to race against the rain.
"The weather is not good today and it is different from my country. It is very difficult to run in such big rain. Today is not a good time to run for better result, so I did not push myself too much," said Debela, the 22-year-old men's champion.
Tariku Bekele finished in 2:11:29 for the runner-up, while the 2017 Dubai marathon champion Ayele Abshero placed third in 2:11:33.
In the women's race, the Ethiopians also proved their dominance with a comfortable top-3 finish. The 25-year-old Hirut Alemayehu hit the finish line in 2:30:09 for the second place, and the defending champion Meseret Mengistu Biru ranked the third in 2:30:15.
Among the Chinese runners, Li Chunhui crossed the line first in the men's field in 2:19:08, while Jiao Anjing became the leading woman to hit the line in 2:46:20.
Yang Dinghong, the runner-up of the 13th National Games and the domestic men's best record holder in 2017, was the third in 2:19:42, even behind Zhao Baidong in 2:19:18.
"I ran a bit fast in the first 10kms, losing control of the pace," said Yang, "I wanted to fight for good result but I ran out of energy in the second half."