, NAIROBI, May 12 – Kenneth Mungara braved warm temperatures to win the 14th edition of the Volkswagen Prague Marathon on Sunday.
Mungara finished in 2 hours11 minutes and 6 seconds to become the 10th Kenyan since the inaugural race in 1995 to win the men’s title in Prague.
Kenyans also grabbed the other two spots on the podium. Eliah Sang took second with a time of 2:12:15, while Simon Njoroge Kariuki crossed the finish line in 2:13:24.
In the women’s race, Emily Kimuria and Caroline Kwambai finished second and third respectively in a race won by Natalya Yulamanova.
Yulamanova, last year’s winner, defended her title after breaking away late from a pack of runners that included Kwambai and compatriot Alina Ivanova, a two-time champion in Prague. The 27 year old finished in 2:31:43, more than 90 seconds better than her winning time in 2007.
Despite temperatures that hit 18 C at the end, Mungara was a comfortable winner. “The race was fine,” he told Czech Television, “The weather wasn’t a problem for me.”
But the weather was a problem for others. Several runners from around the world had hoped to use this year’s race to qualify for the Olympic Games in Beijing. However, none were successful.
The Czech Republic’s biggest Olympic hope, Pavel Novák, failed to finish, dropping out in the 24th kilometer. The top-ranked runner, David Makori Omiti, also dropped out.
In Japan, Harun Njoroge, who runs for Komori Corporation, ran away from Yusei Nakao and Kazuo Ietani in the final stages to win 18th Sendai Half marathon in 1:01:55. Nakao finished second five seconds behind, while Ietani was another five seconds behind in 1:02:05.
Njoroge’s winning time was also the second fastest time in the history of the race. However, it was far behind the course record of 59:43, established by Samuel Wanjiru in 2005.
In the women’s race, Julia Mombi finished behind defending Olympic Marathon champion Mizuki Noguchi.
Mombi, who is coached by legendary coach Yoshio Koide and runs for Aruze in Japan, timed 1:08:31- a new personal having improved by more than a minute on her previous best of 1:09:34.
Noguchi and Mombi broke away from the rest of the field early on. With the defending champion Noguchi in front pushing the pace, they passed 5 Km in 15:58, 10 Km in 32:04, 15 Km 48:23 and 2 20 Km in 1:04:57.
Then with one kilometre to go, Noguchi increased the pace and broke away from Mombi, finishing twenty-nine seconds faster than in her winning performance from last year.