Provided by IAAF

Contesting the Zhuhai Half Marathon for the first time, China’s Sun Lamei barely met any challenge to win the women’s race with an overwhelming advantage on Saturday (13).

The 24-year-old Sun, who spent her early years living and training as a long-distance runner in Zhuhai, clocked 1:16:57 to cruise to the top of the podium in the Chinese south-eastern coastal city.

Chen Xiuling was the runner-up in 1:34:03 and Cao Xia finished third in 1:38:12.

Sun’s winning time was nearly four minutes adrift of her personal best of 1:12:59 and six minutes and 14 seconds shy of the course record of 1:10:43 set in 2011 by world half marathon champion Gladys Cherono of Kenya. But Sun was satisfied with the result.

“Considering the fact that I only decided to run in Zhuhai less than one month ago and did not have much time for preparation, I am quite satisfied with my performance today although the result is not good,” said Sun, who built an clear margin after the 5km mark and led all the way to the finishing line.

Sun represented China in the half marathon at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan and finished 13th while earning a team bronze medal for China.

“The weather today is very good for running and the course is so beautiful. I felt really relaxed during the race,” said Sun, who is currently a graduate student in Beijing.

“I have not trained systematically this year since I have been busy with my study. So I just took the race here as a training session. I want to run in several marathon races next year and hopefully to improve my personal best,” added Sun, whose marathon PB of 2:27:55 was set at the 2012 Beijing Marathon when she finished second.

Both races were won by Chinese runners after organisers decided not to assemble an international field for this year’s race.

Ma Jinguo, a 38-year-old amateur runner, clocked 1:14:48 to win the men’s event. He paced the race alongside Song Jianping for the first 12km before speeding out to take the solo lead.

“I think road race events are more important than multi-sport games because they allow more ordinary people instead of only professional athletes to take part in,” said Ma, who finished 15th in 1:20:32 in Zhuhai last year. “I hope my victory can encourage more people in China to start to run and go for a healthy lifestyle.”

It was the slowest winning time in the race’s brief history, with this year being the sixth edition. The course record for the men’s race is 1:01:38 set in 2011 by Bahrain’s El Hassan El-Abbassi, the Asian Games 10,000m champion.

Song was 22 seconds behind Ma to finish second while Wang Riqin finished third in 1:15:42.

More than 5000 runners participated in the half marathon events in Zhuhai, with the associated 10km and 5km races featuring more than 10,000 runners. The circuit passes some of the most famous city sites including the Coast of Xianglu Bay, where the landmark of the city, the Fisher Girl Statue, stands.

Vincent Wu for the IAAF