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Taipei Marathon sees 40,000 participants

TAIPEI -- An estimated 40,000 runners from 48 countries gathered in defiance of chilly rain to take part in the 2013 Taipei Fubon Marathon Sunday morning.

Participants took off for the 42.2-kilometer full marathon and the half marathon at 7 a.m. on a course that took them past some of Taipei's most notable landmarks.

To draw more participants to the marathon, Taiwan's largest, this year's event also includes a timed 2-km run for school children in 5th and 6th grades as well as a 3-km fun run for casual joggers.

In case the thrill of running was not enough to entice runners, event organizers have also offered a prize of NT$2 million (US$66,000) to any full marathon runner who breaks the course record of 2 hours, 10 minutes and 24 seconds for men or 2 hours, 23 minutes and 37 seconds for women.

Before runners set out through the misty rain, an opening ceremony was held at 6 a.m. in front of Taipei City Hall that brought Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, Sports Administration head Ho Jow-fei and Fubon President Vivien Hsu to cheer them on.

Standing out from the crowd was Fubon Financial Chairman Daniel Tsai. The 57-year-old, who last year ran the 9 km, completed a 21 km run in 2 hours, 27 minutes.

Speaking to journalists before the start of the run, Tsai said Fubon hopes the annual event continue to attract local interest and become a favorite sport for the Taiwanese.

Kenyan runners dominate

As the first runners finished the 42.2-kilometer Taipei Fubon Marathon amid rain and chilly weather Sunday morning, there was little surprise that the first man and women across the finish line came from Kenya.

Josphat Kamzee Jepkopol successfully defended his title by completing the run in 2 hours, 14 minutes and 10 seconds, four minutes shy of the event's all-time record of 2:10:24, but a one-minute improvement over Jepkopol's own record last year of 2:15:27.

The fastest woman on Taipei's streets was Rebecca Kangogo Chesire, who finished at 2:33:20 but failed to break the record of 2:23:37.

Each runner was awarded an NT$1.2 million (US$40,514) prize for coming in first but missed out on the NT$2 million bonus promised to anyone who breaks a standing record.

Jepkopol said he lost the bonus prize because the cold, damp weather slowed him down.

Taiwan's top male runner was Ho Chin-ping — the fastest Taiwanese man last year — at 2:23:33 this year, while Hsu Yu-fang was the first Taiwanese woman across the finish line at 2:48:17.

Each was awarded prize money of NT$200,000.

The annual marathon, Taiwan's largest, also featured a half-marathon and 9-km race.

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Runners brave the rain at the starting line of the 2013 Taipei Fubon Marathon, yesterday. An estimated 40,000 runners from 48 countries gathered in defiance of chilly wet weather to take part in the marathon. (CNA)

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