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Baldini Wins Rome Marathon

March 29, 1998

ROME (AP) _ Italy’s Stefano Baldini overcame a leg cramp and 1996 champion Moses Taye on Sunday to win the Rome Marathon for his first title over the distance.

Baldini, whose career has been fraught with near-misses, surged past Taye with about 2.5 miles left and was alone at the finish line in the shade of the Colosseum.

His time was 2 hours, 9 minutes, 33 seconds.

Another Italian, Franca Fiacconi, was the women’s winner, completing the race in a personal-best 2:28:12. It was Fiacconi’s ninth career marathon victory.

Hampered by a left hamstring cramp, Baldini had let Taye pull ahead at the 4-mile mark before making his charge on the sunny, warm day.

The victory represented a redemption of sorts for Baldini, who was second at the London Marathon by two seconds and came in third in the New York City Marathon last year.

``I was ready for anything today. People have said I don’t concentrate well or this race wasn’t made for me,″ the 1996 half-marathon world champion said.

``I was cramping. I was in a lot of trouble. That last kilometer, mostly uphill, was tough.″

For Ethiopia’s Taye, who timed 2:09:51, it was a second straight runner-up finish in Rome, following his 1996 win here. Franklin Tenorio of Ethiopia was third in 2:10:22.

The 5,000 entrants wound through the streets and squares of the Eternal City, including past the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and the Circus Maximus in the historic center.

Mayor Francesco Rutelli and International Amateur Athletic Federation chief Primo Nebiolo said Sunday that Rome would host a ``Millennium Race,″ a marathon with the start in St. Peter’s Square, on Jan. 1, 2000.