By the 33rd kilometer, it was his race to lose.

With all eyes on Haile Gebrselassie in the lead-up to Sunday’sTokyo Marathon, the actually win went to an Ethiopian runner with a similar-sounding name: Hailu Mekonnen. Japanese Web site The Daily Yomiuri wrote that Hailu was “picking up the slack” for Gebrselassie who didn’t start the race due to knee injury.

Mekonnen, 30, who had switched to the marathon late in his career, broke the finishing tape in 2:07:35. By the half-marathon point it had developed into a two-man race between Mekonnen and Kenya’s Paul Biwott. However, Mekonnen opened it up in the 33rd kilometer.

“The race became weaker when he pulled out,” said Mekonnen about fellow Ethiopian Gebrselassie. “It was sad he couldn’t run. I wanted to do anything I could to make the race as good as it could be.”

In other Tokyo Marathon news, relatively unknown Japanese runner Yuki Kawauchi finished third overall in 2:08:37. His time was an amazing four-minute improvement over his previous marathon PR. With his performance, Kawauchi qualified for the Japanese World Championship team.

For More: Daily Yomiuri Online