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Veteran's Osoro and Bogacheva Rolled to Victory at the Sixth Suzuki Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.

Sports Editors

SAN DIEGO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 1, 2003

It's a story of redemption, determination and grit as Kenya's former national record holder, Ondoro Osoro, returned to the winner's podium for the first time in five years today capturing the 6th Suzuki Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in 2:09:37. He bested countryman Peter Chebet by just two seconds at the finish at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. In the women's competition, Kyrgystan's Irina Bogacheva bolted free from 1996 Olympic champion Fatuma Roba in the 23rd mile to add the 2003 Rock 'n' Roll title to her 1999 win. Her 2:29:52 beat Roba by 34 seconds, and was the third sub-2:30 marathon by the remarkable 42 year-old since March 9th! Both champions earned cash and Suzuki products totaling $70,000.

Osoro led for the final two miles as he and Chebet pulled away from another Kenyan, Joseph Kahugu, who led from miles 20 to 24 after reducing the lead pack from seven to three.

"With 400 meters to go, I pulled away," explained the 35 year-old Osoro who survived a life-threatening gunshot wound to the neck in a car-jacking incident back home in Kenya in 2000.

"For me, running is like mathematics," continued Osoro. "You must find a formula and calculate. I was looking at the others. Sometimes I have to attempt to go and see if anyone is moving. You can sprint and see if they follow. When you have two or three people, someone must win. When you have two, it is the fastest kick."

Though he ran with a severe tilt to the right, a consequence of his gunshot wound, Osoro said his legs felt fresh, though his right arm was numb.

"I wasn't sure if I could swing my arm enough," he chuckled about mounting his final surge. "But I was confident in my training. I was feeling good because my training was so good."

It was Osoro's third marathon since the carjacking during which his pregnant wife and daughter were taken hostage then later released. He ran seventh in Chicago 2001, then took third in Honolulu last December.

"It means a lot, because many people said that after my problem it was the end of my career. But it proves that if you persevere and don't despair, God will take care of you."

For Bogacheva, God must be working overtime. Rock 'n' Roll followed hard on the heals of her 2:28:06 course record victory at the Country Music Marathon in Nashville April 26th. And Nashville was fronted by a third place 2:28:17 in Nagano, Japan March 9th. All at the age of 42.

Today, she took on the former three-time Boston Marathon and Olympic champion, Roba, allowed herself to be gapped by over 100 meters at 21 miles, and still had the moxy to catch up and pull away to a 34 second victory.

"I know Fatuma Roba is strong," explained Bogacheva who led the seven-woman lead pack throughout the day until Roba opened her lead with a 5:33 21st mile coming off a series of mid-5:40s. "I looked to my coach who was on the side of the road at 23 miles, and he said, 'Irina, you must go!' So I pushed ahead."

Bogacheva has run all six Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, taking second the inaugural year 1998, then 1st, 5th, 4th, 3rd, before today's return to the top.

"I like San Diego. It is my favorite race. The organization is excellent. I feel so comfortable that it produces good results."

A record 21,420 entered the marathon that created the highly-popular music marathon format in 1998. They all ran under ideal marathon conditions: a low-hanging marine layer, 60 degree temperatures, still winds, and low humidity. The music from 47 bands, and good cheer from the 42 high school cheer squads can still be heard reverberating through San Diego. (TOP 10 MALE & FEMALE RESULTS FOLLOW)


Top Ten 2003 Suzuki Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Male Finishers

1. Ondoro Osoro, Kenya, 2:09:38, $10,000 + Suzuki Product totaling
 $60,000
2. Peter Chebet, Kenya, 2:09:40, $5,000 + Suzuki Aerio SX Sport
 Crossover Vehicle
3. Joseph Kahugu, Kenya, 2:10:06, $3,000 + Suzuki Intruder Volusia
 800 Motorcyle
4. Sammy Korir, Kenya, 2:11:36, $2,500 + Suzuki DF40 4-stroke
 Outboard Motor
5. Stephen Ndungu, Kenya, 2:11:47,$2,000 + Suzuki Eiger QuadRunner
 All-Terrain Vehicle
6. David Mutua, Kenya, 2:12:11, $2,000
7. David Makori, Kenya, 2:13:17, $1,300
8. D Lucian Hombo, Tanzania, 2:13:30, $1,200
9. Sammy Kigen, Kenya, 2:13:48, $1,100
10. John Kawge, Kenya, 2:14:49, $1,000


Top Ten 2003 Suzuki Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Female Finishers

1. Irina Bogacheva, Kyrgyzstan, 2:29:52, $10,000 + Suzuki Product
 totaling $60,000
2. Fatuma Roba, Ethiopia, 2:30:26, $5,000 + Suzuki Aerio SX Sport
 Crossover Vehicle
3. Svetlana Demidenko, Russia, 2:30:34, $3,000 + Suzuki Intruder
 Volusia 800 Motorcyle
4. Anatasia Ndereba, Kenya, 2:30:53, $2,500 + Suzuki DF40 4-stroke
 Outboard Motor
5. Asha Gigi, Ethiopia, 2:31:39, $2,000 + Suzuki Eiger QuadRunner
 All-Terrain Vehicle
6. Silvia Skvortsova, Russia, 2:33:40, $2,000
7. Tatyana Pozdyakova, Ukraine, 2:34:56, $1,300
8. Leila Aman, Ethiopia, 2:35:54, $1,200
9. Irina Safarova, Russia, 2:37:12, $1,100
10. A. Sanchez Ibarra, Mexico, 2:37:25, $1,000
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Date:Jun 1, 2003
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