But it wasn’t all dumb luck.
25 kilometers into Sunday’s Huawei Venice Marathon, it appeared as though race favorites Gilbert Kipleting Chumba or David Kiprono Metto would come away with a victory. But in a scene straight out of a Looney Tunes cartoon, the top seven pack leaders were led astray after the lead motorcycle took a wrong turn.
The seven leaders — Bernard Bett Kiplangat, Moses Kemei Kipngetich, Robert Kiplimo, Abdullah Shami, Mutai Kipkemei, and the already mentioned Chumba and Metto — were led by the motorcycle off course and onto a busy thoroughfare. After several hundred meters, the pack realized they were headed in the wrong direction and turned back onto the marathon route.
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The top seven leaders in the pack were delayed for about two minutes, which left an opening for Italian runner Eyob Ghebrehiwet Faniel to surge ahead and win the race. With a finish of 2:12:16, the Venice Marathon Club runner became the first Italian to win the marathon in 22 years. “Today’s race shows that the work is paying off,” Faniel said according to the IAAF. “It was not an easy race as I had to run alone on the Ponte della Libertà. I dedicate the win to myself as I have always believed in my work despite all the difficulties.”
While, at the surface, it may appear as though Faniel’s win was a case of dumb luck, he deserves some credit for his victory. His finish time beat his previous personal best of 2:15:39, from a marathon in Florence in 2016. According to Sports Illustrated, among American runners, Faniel’s time would be the third-best of 2017. Finally, Faniel’s time was just over a minute behind the Italian world record posted by Daniele Meucci at the IAAF World Championships in August, which makes Faniel a clear contender for the Italian Olympic team in 2020.