Kenyan Benson Kipruto and Ethiopian Sutume Kebede won Sunday's Tokyo Marathon with respective men's and women's race records.

Kipruto came home in 2 hours, 2 minutes, 16 seconds after outdueling countryman Timothy Kiplagat over the final stages.

Kiplagat clocked 2:02:55 for second, while Vincent Kipkemoi completed a Kenyan podium sweep in 2:04:18.

Ninth-place Yusuke Nishiyama was the first Japanese runner across the line in 2:06.31, falling outside the Olympic qualification benchmark of 2:05:50 set by the Japan Association of Athletics Federations.

Benson Kipruto of Kenya crosses the finish line to win the Tokyo Marathon on March 3, 2024. (Kyodo)

The result means two-time Olympian Suguru Osako will take the third and final Japanese slot for the men's marathon at the Paris Games this summer by virtue of his third-place finish in October's Marathon Grand Championship.

"Without beating the qualifying time, the result is meaningless," a tearful Nishiyama said. "My only goal was Paris, so it's hard to think of any other goal."

Kebede won the women's race in 2:15:55, with Kenya's defending champion Rosemary Wanjiru second and Amane Beriso Shankule of Ethiopia third. Sixth-placed Hitomi Niiya was the fastest Japanese woman in 2:21:50.

Ethiopia's Sutume Kebede wins the women's race at the Tokyo Marathon on March 3, 2024. (Pool photo)(Kyodo)

Kiplagat had set the pace before Kipruto pulled level with around 10 kilometers left to run. The two ran neck-and-neck through the Japanese capital until Kiplagat separated as they approached the finish line in front of Tokyo Station.

The 32-year-old Kipruto became the fifth-fastest marathoner in history as he strengthened his candidacy for the still-unannounced Kenyan Olympic team.

Two-time defending Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, who set the previous Tokyo Marathon record in 2022, finished 10th in 2:06:50. The 39-year-old Kenyan led early but began dropping off before halfway.

Japan's Yusuke Nishiyama finishes in ninth place at the Tokyo Marathon on March 3, 2024. (Kyodo)

"I was fit enough, but something happened around the middle of the race," said Kipchoge. "I think it's early to say (about the Olympics) now. I'm going to go back, relax and start training."

Sunday's race came less than a month after the international athletics community was stunned by the death of Kenyan marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum at 24 in a car accident in his home country.

The ascendant star set the world mark of 2:00:35 at October's Chicago Marathon and had been expected to contend for gold alongside previous world record holder Kipchoge in Paris.

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