Cheboiboch wins Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

Updated: June 5, 2005, 4:19 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Christopher Cheboiboch might have really rocked the joint if he hadn't been weakened by the flu.

Cheboiboch pulled away from fellow Kenyan Stephen Kiogora with about five miles to go and won the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on Sunday in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 17 seconds.

When he rounded a corner heading out of Mission Bay and onto the homestretch, he looked over his right shoulder and saw he had about a 100-meter lead over Kiogora.

"And then I knew, if nothing could hinder me, I saw this one was a big win," Cheboiboch said shortly after finishing on the parade deck at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

Cheboiboch won by 34 seconds.

Cheboiboch, perhaps best known for finishing second at Boston and New York in 2002, said he got the flu after the long trip from Kenya on Monday. He was so weak that he went on only one 20-minute training run after he got to San Diego.

Cheboiboch said he followed the pacesetter as long as possible to conserve energy. Shortly after the 20-mile mark, he felt he needed to test Kiogora.

"I knew I was not at all strong because of the flu and I had to push a little bit harder to see how strong the guy was who was following me," he said. "I found he was resisting my best, so I had to go on pushing."

Had he been healthy, he would have challenged the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon record of 2:08:33 by Philip Tarus in 1999.

"I would have run less than 2:09, for sure," he said.

Cheboiboch finished second to Tarus in the first Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in 1998. Four years later, he finished second to Kenyan Rodgers Rop in Boston and New York.

He said he wasn't frustrated by being runner-up so many times.

"This is sports, and everybody has his own time," he said. "You have to wait. You have to be patient. You have to be proud of it, because this is my time today."

He won the Country Music Marathon in Nashville in 2001.

Kenyans swept the top four spots and eight of the top 10. Benson Cherono was third in 2:10:01 and Simon Bor was fourth in 2:12:38.

Tarus (2:13:42) was sixth and 2003 winner Ondoro Osoro (2:13:56) was seventh.

Gete Wami of Ethiopia, a three-time Olympic medalist in the 10,000 and 5,000 meters, won the women's race in 2:30:55. She finished 13 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Elfenesh Alemu, who finished fourth in the marathon at the Athens Olympics in August. Hellen Kimutai of Kenya was third in 2:31:15.

The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, which features bands playing at approximately every mile and near the finish, is sponsored by Coca-Cola Zero.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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