In an Ethiopian duel, Ayana dropped twelve-year-old Guye Adola, the race favorite after his 2021 victory at the Berlin Marathon. Following a first acceleration in the climb of the last six kilometers, to which Adola responded, Ayana placed a new attack, this time sharp, almost five kilometers from the finish line.

He completed the course in 2:07:15, twenty seconds ahead of Adola and 25 ahead of Kenya's Josphat Boit, third.

Ayana was competing in her first marathon, after two half marathons, one in Poznan (Poland) completed in 59:39 in October 2021 and another in Cardiff completed in 1:00:17 last year.

His first strides on a course of 42.195 kilometers propelled him to the rank of international athlete.

Among the French competitors, Mehdi Frère finished tenth in 2:11:04 and Yoann Kowal, European champion in the 3,000m steeplechase in 2014, took fifteenth place in 2:14:56.

Third last year by setting the new record of France, Morhad Amdouni this time finished in thirteenth position (2 h 12 min 45) after running at an "average pace, not ridiculous either".

"I didn't come for the performance but especially as part of my preparation for the Worlds (August 19-27)," he recalled after the race. I had to finish 42 kilometers, I'm happy, I finished them. Several riders would have stopped, I continued. I'm not very tired either."

Kiprop in extremis

In the women's race, the victory was even more contested. A group of five women were still leading the pace three kilometers from the goal. Kenyan Helah Kiprop was the first to let go... before coming back to finally get ahead of her competitors at the end of an unexpected comeback, gleaning a victory thanks to the self-sacrifice that characterizes marathoners.

Ethiopian Abeje Ayana, winner of the Paris marathon, April 2, 2023 © Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP

Kiprop, winner of the Tokyo Marathon in 2016, clocked 2:23:19, cutting the line in the same time as Ethiopia's Atalel Anmut. Another Ethiopian, Fikrte Wereta, finished third, three seconds behind the leading duo.

In the disabled category, Britain's David Weir, six-time Paralympic gold medallist, edged out Dutchman Geert Schipper in the sprint to win his second title after 2017, in 1:34:23. Frenchman Julien Casoli was dropped in the last four kilometers and took third place in 1:35:42.

Contested under the greyness of Paris and in conditions made difficult by rain and wind, the race did not allow the athletes to set new records.

Nor did it offer them the opportunity to recognize the route of the Olympic marathon that will be held in the streets of the French capital in less than 500 days. This year's route started from the center of Paris and then swept the capital from East to West. The Olympic route will start at the Hôtel de Ville before plunging in the direction of Versailles (south-west) and then returning to the centre.

More than 52,000 participants were expected during this 46th edition, with 43% of neophytes of the distance.

© 2023 AFP