SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Aleksandra Duliba of Belarus won the 28th Asics Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday in her marathon debut, and Kenyan Erick Mose won the men's race with a personal best.
Duliba led 21 of 26 miles, including the final 14, and finished in 2 hours, 26 minutes, 8 seconds, breaking the Belarusian national record by 15 seconds. In addition to the $25,000 first prize, Duliba won a $50,000 bonus as the first elite runner to cross the finish line, 2:09 ahead of Mose, who won in 2:09:44. The women started 18:35 ahead of the men.
Throughout the race, it appeared Duliba checked her watch at regular intervals. In fact, she said, she had written conversion times from miles to kilometers all over her hands and forearms so she could pace herself properly.
She started in a pack of four, fell back in mile 3, caught up and took the lead at mile 4. Duliba and Ethiopian Zemzem Ahmed broke away from the pack in mile 11.
Ahmed seemed content to draft off Duliba for much of the next eight miles, but Duliba left her in mile 19 and later said she was surprised Ahmed didn't stay with her.
"I was expecting her to run fast," Duliba said through an interpreter. "I was surprised she stayed behind me. I was asking (her) to go in front."
Ahmed finished second in 2:30:32. A spot on the Belarus team isn't assured for Duliba until the end of April because others might run faster.
"I'm so happy. It was my dream to run this time, to set the national record," Duliba said. "The last 10 kilometers, I had in mind, `Keep the same pace. Keep pushing, keep pushing.' "
Mose and Julius Keter raced as part of a pack of 10 runners for the first 15 miles. By mile 22, the pack had thinned to six, and before the mile was up, the two broke away. Mose left Keter in mile 25. Keter finished in 2:10:31, followed by Nicholas Chelimo of Kenya in 2:10:43.
"I'm not sure I'm beating him. He's strong. I know him," Mose said of Keter. "But when we were at 24 miles, that was when I left him behind, so that's when I saw I can win the race. When I found myself at 25 ... I felt strong and happy."
Deena Kastor, the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist who came into the race with the fastest marathon time among the elite women, fell back in mile 5 and never threatened. She finished third in 2:32:39.
Kastor, who raced even though she is planning to run in the world cross country championships next week in Poland, attributed her performance to an upset stomach and a little tightness.
"I felt definitely like I was prepared to run," the 40-year-old said. "My husband told me it's getting 100 percent out of yourself on a less-than-100-percent day. I gave a 100 percent effort on an 80 percent day."