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Vsevelod Khudyakov Slashes Minutes off Laguna Phuket Int. Marathon Record

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Russian whirlwind Vsevelod Khudyakov, blew away Laguna Phuket International Marathonís course record in a stunning time of 02:33:51, just 24 hours after arriving on the paradise island from his home near Vladivostok on Russiaís eastern seaboard to make a last-minute race registration.

The 22-year old engineering student slashed almost seven minutes off last yearís record of 02:40:08 set by Thai Chakrit Boonkong and streaked home more than 17 minutes ahead of nearest rival American Christopher Paulett, who finished second in 02:51:24, followed by third-placed Lekcome Caradloung of Thailand in 02:54:31.

Overcast skies and a gentle sea breeze made perfect running weather for the destination marathonís biggest-ever field in its six-year history, with some 5,000 runners from 45 countries in a medley of full marathon, half marathon, 10.5 km run, 5 km Community Charity Walk and a 2 Km Kidsí Run.

Khudyakov, whose hometown Khabarovsk on the Trans-Siberian railway suffers winter temperatures of -30 degrees centigrade, has run marathons in Russia, Europe and India, but this was his first visit to Thailand and he arrived at Laguna Phuket from the airport on Saturday afternoon to register with just minutes to spare before the entry cut-off time.

ďI read about the marathon and decided I wanted to run it,Ē he said. ďIt was a beautiful course and very unlike any Iíve run before. I really enjoyed my marathon and Iím very pleased that I finished so well.Ē

Winner of the womenís marathon was Mari Kauri of Finland in 03:30:46, with Moira Lowe of Great Britain second in 03:39:07 and Australian Angela Steven third in 03:42:45. The top Thai female finisher was Prateep Thongchai in 10th place at 04:03:00.

With the event focused on fun, celebrity runners added to the carnival atmosphere at Laguna Phuket. Thai film star Mario Mauer Ė the eventís Charity Ambassador - sparked excitement from fans as he led schoolchildren from Baan Klong Mai Daeng School in Surat Thani on the 5 km walk to raise funds for their flood-damaged school as part of Laguna Phuketís Developing Sustainable Schools community initiative.

Elsewhere, three contestants from reality TV show The Biggest Loser Asia, with a combined weight loss of around 150 kg, completed the half marathon as part of their new fitness lifestyle, with Atikom Laksanapanal finishing in 02:36:39; Picharatch Phunthawornawin in 2:40:06 and Scott Hanna in 03:14:27.

And marathon centurion Julia Thorn, the first Australian woman to run 100 marathons, clocked up number 115 in a time of 05:24:58.

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