Lagat edges out Boston rivals

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Elijah Lagat won the 104th Boston Marathon yesterday, outsprinting two other runners down the final stretch to win in 2hr 9min 46sec.

It was the 10th consecutive Kenyan victory in the event, Lagat leaving behind the Ethiopian Gezahenge Abera and Kenya's Moses Tanui on Boylston Street to match the closest finish in the race's history.

Tanui made the first move, but was unable hold the pace. Lagat then took the lead and held off Abera by one second. In the 1988 race, Ibrahim Hussein beat Juma Ikangaa by the same margin; the closest three-way finish was 18 seconds, in 1998, when Tanui won for the second time. The 10 consecutive Kenyan victories is also unprecedented. Americans won from 1916to 1925, but the 1918 event was run as a relay race.

Catherine Ndereba, of Kenya, won the women's race in 2hr 26min 11sec. Irina Bogacheva, of Kyrgyzstan, finished second, just ahead of the three-time winner, Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia.

UK Athletics may delay announcing the third member of Britain's Olympic marathon men's team for a few more weeks to give other potential candidates the opportunity of achieving the qualifying time.

Jon Brown, who missed Sunday's London Marathon with a hip injury, was pre-selected in January. Mark Steinle secured his place on Sunday when achieving the 2hr 14min qualifying time. The 25-year-old recorded 2:11:18 in his maiden marathon and, as the first British finisher, was automatically chosen for Sydney.

Keith Cullen - another debutant who also made the qualifying time, finishing 15th in 2:13:37 - will be left sweating if the selectors exercise their right to consider "exceptional circumstances".

In Rabat, the Moroccan runner Mohammed Ahansal won what is reputed to be the world's toughest race, the Marathon des Sables, on Monday for the third time. His younger brother Lahcen was second at the end of the 149-mile six-stage race. Mohammed won in 1997 and 1999 while Lahcen won in 1998.

Described by organisersas "the hardest and the longest since its creation in 1985",this year's race was markedby heat of up to 50C and strong sandstorms. A record 680competitors took part - butorganisers said there was also a record number of retirements.