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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Accident Ensures Win for Russian

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LOS ANGELES — Russia's Yelena Paramonova won the women's title at the Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday when leader Nuta Olaru of Romania turned her head to look back and gagged on the fluid she took in the 25th mile of the 26.2-mile race.

Kenyans dominated the men's race, with Stephen Ndungu winning in a slow 2 hours, 13 minutes and 13 seconds, followed 2 minutes later by Ben Kimondiu. Last year's winner, Benson Mbithi, was just 10 seconds behind Kimondiu.

Train engineer Paramonova, a late entry because she was ambivalent about competing again after recently running back-to-back marathons in Texas, clocked in at 2:36:58. Teammate Ramilia Burangulova, 39, finished third at 2:37:46, 24 seconds behind Olaru.

"It happened right after I took some type of sports drink, not exactly water, I'm not sure what it was, but it came from the water table," Olaru said through her coach, Pop Dumitru. "I think I began [to choke] because I was surprised that Paramonova was moving up. I thought I recovered, but in 10 seconds it [my lead] was done. I closed the gap a little, but realized I could not keep the pace."

Olaru, 30, also finished second in last year's race.

"When I came back from Austin, I didn't have any plans for Los Angeles, but my coach looked at the field, and knew it wouldn't be a fast race," Paramonova said, as interpreted by her coach, Konstantin Seleinevich. "I didn't run my best race in Austin [2:32:00], and I had a lot left. I thought about it about a week before this marathon. We made the final decision three days before Los Angeles."

It wasn't just the women who saw a weak field.

"The pace for the first half [5 minutes, 4.9 seconds per mile] was not so good," said Ndungu, 33, who only started marathon training when he was 30. "The problem was not with the pacemakers, they did a fine job, it was our fault. I had no desire to break off too early because the pace may have gone too high. But it was so slow by the halfway mark."

Ndungu is a farmer and construction worker in Kenya. He took the lead after 18 miles.

Mbithi's winning time of 2:11:55 last year — achieved in torrential rain — was blisteringly quick in comparison.

The men's record of 2:09:25 was set in 1999 by Simon Bor of Kenya. The women's record of 2:26:23 was reached by Mandina Biktagirova of the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1992. The course runs through several Los Angeles neighborhoods, starting and finishing in between downtown skyscrapers

First place money for runners was $35,000 cash and a Honda Accord worth another $25,000. Honda is one of the marathon's main sponsors.