KENYAN Joel Chepkopol has claimed his first Great Ocean Road Marathon victory after a dramatic sprint to the finish line yesterday.
Chepkopol, 30, outsprinted compatriot Philip Kigen to the marathon finish line outside Apollo Bay Hotel in front of a crowd of more than 10,000 people.
His time of 2:27.50 failed to beat the course record held by countryman Charles Kipkelwon, who finished third yesterday.
Chepkopol said winning the race, which covered 45 kilometres of the Great Ocean Road between Lorne and Apollo Bay, was a surprise.
“I was not expecting to win, the course was very hard,” he said.
Chepkopol added the Great Ocean Road Marathon victory to wins at Germany’s Kassel and Regensburg Marathons.
Ballarat’s Tracie Kaye won the women’s marathon in a time of 3:08.44 with Magda Karimali-Poulos in second place.
Kaye, who was competing in her second marathon, said the win came as a shock.
“I’m really happy, I was not expecting it whatsoever,” she said.
“The legs were really sore with about 20k to go so I struggled a bit through the last few ks but I got there in the end.”
Kaye said the victory inspired her to return next year.
“Definitely, I love the Great Ocean Road,” she said.
Kenyan Festus Talam, 18, won the 23-kilometre half marathon in a time of 1:13.42 while Echuca’s Tarli Bird won the women’s half marathon in 1:26.03.
Talam said he wanted to work towards running a full Great Ocean Road marathon.
“When I’m 20, I can do a marathon in Kenya, then I want my next marathon to be here,” he said.
Former Apollo Bay and Colac Tigers footballer Rahni Buchanan finished the marathon in a time of 4:18.02.
South Colac netballers Emma Monteith, 2:08.42, and Katie McDougall, 2:11.33, were among Colac district competitors in the half marathon.
This year’s marathon had 1150 competitors while 2671 people competed in the half marathon.
Caribou Publications director John Craven estimated between 10,000 and 12,000 spectators gathered around the finish line outside the Apollo Bay Hotel.