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Marathons spring up across West Africa, creating new source for distance-running talent

More than 1,000 runners took to the streets of Monrovia for the Liberia Marathon and 10-kilometer race, one of several such events to have sprung up in West Africa in recent years.

East African powerhouses Kenya and Ethiopia are the world's undisputed marathon leaders. But on the other side of the continent, organizers and participants increasingly believe they can make distance-running a West African sport.

Holding a marathon in the region comes with its share of challenges, not least of which is the climate. Monrovia, often stiflingly hot, is also one of the world's wettest cities, and parts of Sunday's race took place under a heavy downpour.

Nevertheless, race winner Nathan Naipei of Kenya said he was confident West Africa could produce a champion "in two to three years."