Florence, Italy - The 39th edition of the Firenze Marathon, held on a crisp, sunny day, saw breathtaking performances from Rwanda's Clementine Mukandanga and Italy's Said El Otmani, who emerged as the champions in their respective categories.
In the women's marathon, an elite pack including Failuna Abdi Matanga, Purity Jeptoo Cheromei, Rebecca Cheptegei, and Clementine Mukandanga established an early lead. Mukandanga initially fell behind but made a remarkable comeback around the 35 km mark, overtaking her competitors in a stunning display of endurance and speed.
Mukandanga finished with a time of 2:25:54, the fourth fastest in the event's history and a personal best, improving on her previous record set in Florence last year. Rebecca Cheptegei of Uganda secured second place with a time of 2:27:08, followed by Tanzania's Abdi Failunga Matanga at 2:28:58.
Post-race, Mukandanga expressed her joy, saying, "I live and train in Siena, running 120 km a week. Winning here, where I've previously finished on the podium, is a dream come true."
The men's marathon was equally thrilling, with a strong group comprising Edwin Kipleting, Said El Otmani, Mohamed Baybat, and Abdo Abdi Ibrahim Hussain setting a brisk pace. El Otmani and Baybat broke away around the 25 km mark, with El Otmani eventually gaining a substantial lead.
El Otmani finished in 2:12:39, becoming the first Italian to win the Firenze Marathon since Angelo Carosi in 2003. He shaved 44 seconds off his personal best, set in Siena Ampugnano in 2021. Kenyan runner Edwin Kipleting came in second at 2:13:50, followed by Hillry Chemweno in third with 2:15:05.
Reflecting on his victory, El Otmani said, "I ran well until 39 km, then faced some challenges, but I held on, knowing I could win. I'm now looking forward to competing in the half marathon at the European Championships in Rome."
Both Mukandanga and El Otmani demonstrated exceptional skill and resilience, marking this year's Firenze Marathon as an event of memorable athletic achievements.