April 26, 2009 / 10:56 AM / 10 years ago

Mikitenko retains London marathon women's title

LONDON (Reuters) - German Irina Mikitenko retained the London women’s marathon title on Sunday after taking the lead at 32 km and striding to victory in two hours 22 minutes 11 seconds.

2008 London Marathon women's winner Irina Mikitenko of Germany poses for photographers near Tower Bridge in central London April 23, 2009. She will compete in this Sunday's London Marathon. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Mikitenko ran shoulder-to-shoulder with Briton Mara Yamauchi after Chinese Olympic bronze medallist Zhou Chunxiu fell off the pace after 27 km of the 42.195 km race.

She stepped up the tempo through Canary Wharf and moved steadily ahead of the Briton to record her third win in only four marathons after a long track career.

Yamauchi was second in 2:23:12 and Russian Liliya Shobukhova third in 2:24:24.

Olympic champion Constantina Dita dropped off the pace early in the race, trailing the leading group by nine seconds after five km. She pulled out of the race at the halfway stage complaining of breathing difficulties.

After 10 km, the front group had already shrunk to Mikitenko, Zhou, Yamauchi and Japanese Mika Okunaga.

Okunaga was the next to fade before the field passed the halfway stage in 1:10:53, a minute ahead of the second group which included twice world champion Catherine Ndereba.

Zhou found the pace too fierce after 27 km and the race came down to the German and the Briton who ran side by side on the road leading to Canary Wharf.

Mikitenko then stepped up the pace and established a clear lead over Yamauchi.

Yamauchi, sixth in last year’s Beijing Olympics, held on for second place to compensate the large crowd for the absence of British world record holder Paula Radcliffe who pulled out of the race because of a broken toe.

Reporting by John Mehaffey; Editing by Sonia Oxley

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