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Kipkemboi, Chelagat top Mara race

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NAIROBI, Kenya, November 20- Nicholas Kipkemboi and 2007 Las Vegas Marathon titleholder, Jemima Chelagat won the men and women elite races of the third Masai Mara Marathon on Saturday.

Battling strong winds, scorching heat and the risk of wildlife attack, Kipkemboi raced 1:02:28 while Chelagat topped the women’s field in 1:07:07 in the 21km main races to bag Sh250,000 ($2,500) each in prize money.

For Chelagat, the victory was made all special since it marked a triumphant competitive return since finishing second at the 2009 Frankfurt Marathon after a maternal break.

“I never expected to triumph here. There were several athletes who are better than I but after the halfway mark, I saw no one was catching up as I pulled away.

“This race is however, different from the other races because you could see wild animals crossing your path,” Chelegat said after completing the course laid out for the competitors in the Lemek Conservancy.

Surprise 2010 World Cross senior women champion, Emily Muge, led the pretenders’ home in 1:08:21 with Monicah Wangari (1:09.07) and Peninah Arusei, the inaugural winner in 2009 was eighth.

In the men race, Kipkemboi added another feather on his cap as he won the race in 1:02:28. The jackpot winner of the Kisii Golden Series held out a late charge from Joseph Aperumoi who was timed at 1:02:29 while Koinin Wanjiku was third in 1:01.31.

“I started training in March and coming here to win makes me proud. There was of course the fear of the wildlife, but I knew there was enough security so I had time to focus on the race,” he said.

National carrier Kenya Airways is sponsoring the marathon with Sh20 ($20,000) while Fairmont Hotels and Resort provided accommodation facilities.

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