Fabiano Joseph of Tanzania wins world half-marathon title

Fabiano Joseph of Tanzania surged in the final strides Saturday to slip past Mubarak Shami of Qatar and win the men's world half-marathon championship.

Shami was raising his arms in victory as Joseph passed him at the finish line to finishing in 1 hour, 1 minute, 8 seconds. Shami led a group of six Africans for most of the race and appeared to be headed for victory after he and Joseph pulled away in the last 200 meters.

"I was thinking I had won the race," Shami told reporters afterward. "But I'm not disappointed.

"Competition is like that. I'm very happy with my silver medal."

Joseph thought Shami misjudged the finish line by about 1 meter, slowing as he raised his arms prematurely.

"I was very happy for finishing first," said a beaming Joseph, who huddled beside a gas heater to keep warm in the interview tent. "(Shami) celebrated too early."

Kifle Yonas of Eritrea finished third, while Sihine Sileshi of Ethiopia was fourth.

In the women's race, Romanian Constantina Tomescu finished a minute ahead of her closest competitor with a winning time of 1:09.17. Lornah Kiplagat, a Kenyan who now runs for the Netherlands, finished second after pulling ahead of Kenyan Susan Chepkemei just a few meters before the finish.

Cold temperatures and steady rain kept times well off the world records.

"I like this weather. It's the same weather in Romania," said Tomescu, who plans to run the Chicago marathon next Sunday. "I need lots of rest and I'll only be doing a little training once a day."

This is the final year for the world half marathon, which will be reformed next year as the world road running championships.

IAAF officials said on the eve of this race that they're disappointed the event hasn't drawn more attention in North America.

Only a few hundred spectators turned out to watch the men's and women's races, which are much more popular in Europe and Asia, AP reported.

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