Dutchman Michel Butter wins Utrecht Marathon
UTRECHT, Netherlands -- Michel Butter of the Netherlands has won the Utrecht Marathon, ending a four-year Kenyan winning streak in a race in which organizers have been accused of discriminating against foreign runners.
Butter overtook Mutai Kipkorir of Kenya in the final straightaway to finish in 2 hours, 17 minutes, 35 seconds. Pauline Claessen made it a double Dutch victory, taking the women's race in 2:56:22.
Before the race, organizers said a Dutch winner would earn 100 times more than a winner from another country.
First place was worth only $142, but organizers said a Dutch winner would also get a bonus of about $14,200. The bonus was intended as an incentive for Dutch runners and was not offered to foreigners.
The Utrecht city council, which subsidizes the event, supported the initiative.
Kipkorir led the race for the first 19 miles before giving way to Butter toward the end.
"It was heavy going. The conditions were tough," Butter said of the race run in unseasonably warm weather. "I had a bit of cramp at the end but I could keep going."
Butter's win will likely disappoint supporters of Gert-Jan van Wijk, a Kenyan-based Dutch businessman who had promised to contribute more than $14,000 in prize money if a non-Dutch runner won the race.
"I am disappointed that the winner wasn't Kenyan or foreign to say the least," said Thomas Mulder, Van Wijk's business associate.
Mulder said while he was sympathetic to the intentions of the marathon organizers, the initiative discouraged foreigners from participating.
Organizers said at least 30 nationalities participated in this year's event although the number of Kenyan participants could not be confirmed.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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