Maybe off-the-rack running shoes were what Weldon Kirui of Kenya needed all along.
Second in 2012 and fourth in 2013, Kirui pulled away late and won the Los Angeles Marathon on a foggy Sunday in his third try.
After flying from Nairobi through Amsterdam, Kirui arrived Wednesday in Los Angeles, only to find his luggage containing all his gear had been lost by the airlines. His bags arrived a day later, but Kirui already liked his new shoes better.
"The new shoes were very comfortable," said the 27-year-old Kirui, who raced shoulder-to-shoulder with Willie Koitile until making his surge over the final mile, winning in a time of 2 hours, 13 minutes, 7 seconds.
"Two days ago I used them. They were very nice."
Kenyan men swept the top three spots.
"The pace was very slow," Kirui said. "We were talking to each other, saying, 'Let's go faster.'"
Nataliya Lehonkova of Ukraine led almost the entire way and won the women's race in 2:30:40.
"I was trying to run my best time," Lehonkova said. "I did a lot of speed work and a lot of long runs every week."
Kirui and Lehonkova won over a course starting at Dodger Stadium downtown, winding through West Hollywood and Beverly Hills before finishing near the Santa Monica Pier.
Kirui and Koitile pulled away as a pair with four miles remaining. Koitile was second in 2:13:24 after an injury flared up late.
"I just didn't have enough energy," he said. "I have a pain in my leg after 20 miles. It was very difficult."
Defending champion Daniel Limo finished third in 2:13:52.
"My body was resisting, and I was not able to keep up," Limo said. "Everyone came here in great shape. I was in a tough position to defend."
Serkalem Abrha of Ethiopia finished second to Lehonkova in 2:32:24, with Julia Budniak of Poland third at 2:44:44. The 33-year-old Lehonkova pulled away from Abrha with five miles to go.
The elite field started early under cool, ideal conditions in an effort to complete the race before temperatures got too hot.
Kirui and Lehonkova each earned $100,000.
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