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Home win helps warm hearts in chilly marathon
Kenya's Paul Korir and home runner Zhang Xin overcame the rigors of the city's streets in cold, overcast conditions to capture the men's and women's titles at the Shanghai International Marathon yesterday.

Korir completed the 42.195-kilometer route, starting from the Bund, in two hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds, emerging victorious from a photo finish with countryman Jonathon Kip Kosgei.

Zhang Xin continued China's dominance in the women's event with a time of two hours 32 minutes and seven seconds. Chinese runners have won the women's trophy nine times out of the 11 Shanghai marathons that have been held.

Japan's Harumi Hiroyama came second.

In the half-marathon, another star, Mizuki Noguchi, the women's marathon gold medalist at the Athens Olympics, won in a course record of one hour nine minutes and three seconds.

The Japanese long distance star improved the previous benchmark, set by Kenya's Esther Kiplagat in 2003, by two and a half minutes.

"It has been a wonderful experience despite a little trouble posed by the weather," said Noguchi, who passed on the full-length event because she is recovering from a leg injury. "I have raced in China quite a few times already and will keep participating in events in this country. That will help me better prepare for the 2008 Games in Beijing."

A record 17,000 people turned out at the starting point on Nanjing Road E. yesterday morning. Most of the competitors were competing in the 4.5-kilometer fun run, which ended at Jing'an Temple on Nanjing Road W.

"It's a bonus for us organizers to see the number of people involved in this event keeps growing every year," said Qiu Weichang, the vice chief of the Shanghai Sports Administration.

Last year 15,000 people took part in the event, officials said.