Australian Shelley trumps Africans for marathon win
Michael Shelley runs in the Commonwealth Games men's marathon in Glasgow, Scotland on July 27, 2014 - by Andrej Isakovic
But there was no upset in the women's race, Flomena Daniel leading teammate Caroline Kilel to a convincing Kenyan one-two, with Jess Trengrove grabbing an unexpected bronze for Australia.
Shelley, who finished 16th in the London Olympics, clocked a personal best of 2hr 11min 15sec on the largely flat course around the streets of Glasgow, to better his silver-medal showing in Delhi four years ago.
"I've got to pinch myself, it is very exciting. To come back and actually win is indescribable," said Shelley. "Now I have had a bit more experience, to come away with my first win is indescribable."
"You just try to run the best you possibly can and it was a dream to be honest. I'm still buzzing, I can't believe it."
Shelley added: "It probably wasn't until a kilometre out that I got a bit of a feeling. I just kept pushing on. My main idea was to stay relaxed and I was always there in the lead group.
"At 35k there was a surge. I just had to stay strong and it paid off."
Kenya's Stephen Chemlany, a pacemaker for compatriot Patrick Makau's world record run in the Berlin marathon in 2011 when he went on to finish fourth in a personal best of 2:06.24, claimed silver in 2:11.58.
Uganda's Abraham Kiplimo, training partner of absent world and Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich, took bronze at 1:08 and was the dictator of the early pace.
After a sedate opening 10km, Kiplimo upped the pace, glancing over his shoulder and accelerating away, taking with him teammates Philip Kiplimo and Munyo Mutai, and Tanzania's Fabiano Naasi.
The sole Kenyan to stick with the breakaway group was defending champion John Eriku Kelai, although Chemlany worked his way back to the lead peloton shortly after.
Shelley and teammate Liam Adams also struggled to stick with the increased workrate.
After going through the 20km mark in 1:01.47, the third Kenyan, Erick Ndiema, refound the main group.
But then there was drama as Abraham Kiplimo veered across for a watering station, slipped and fell.
His teammates slowed the pace to allow him back into action, Mutai even keeping hold of his water bottle for him to have a drink.
After the surges of Kiplimo, now content to sit at the back after his tumble, it was clear no one wanted to set a pace, with the Ugandan team attack stripped of its impetus.
Accordingly, at the 1:17 mark, Shelley and Adams, along with Rwanda's Dieudonne Disi, had managed to reel in the lead pack.
As the race entered the business end, a welcome injection of pace did finally come through Naasi, Kelai and Mutai.
A seven-strong pack swept through 35km in 1:49.05, with Disi, Ndiema and Adams struggling.
Chemlany then pulled away with Mutai and Abraham Kiplimo, Shelley fighting in fourth ahead of Kelai.
Kiplimo then faded as Chemlany made his move at 1:56, but Shelley matched him, Mutai also fading.
Shelley then upped the ante, clocking 14:47 between the 35-40km markers, and moved gradually away from the Kenyan, whose personal best of 2:06.24 was the fastest time in the field.
The Australian held his nerve, heading around the final corner with a huge smile and fist pumping for the first gold medal of the track and field programme in Glasgow.
The women's race was slightly less dramatic, Daniel and Kilel dominating throughout and this year's Paris marathon winner providing a decisive kick in the final 2km to win in 2hr 26min 45sec, with Kilel at 25sec.