ISIOLO, Kenya, June 30- Debutants Philemon Baaru and Gladys Kerubo are this year’s winners of the 13th edition of the Safaricom Lewa Marathon after emerging victors in the men and women full marathon.
Baaru from Burguret Braves team overcome stiff competition in the tough race to cross the line in 2:19.52 in his first attempt while second placed Julius Ndoria completed in 2:20.27 and Daniel Mbogo closely third in 2:20.33.
He took control of the race at the hour mark with the runners up hot on his trail throughout the dusty course but managed to keep them at bay till he crossed the tape.
‘’I’m not surprised at my victory since I’m used to running and although the course was slippery due to the gravel, I’m happy to have won it in my first attempt ‘’This win will greatly boost me as I look forward to participate in a major marathon in the month of October,’’ added the elated 2011 Porto marathon winner where he posted his personal best of 2:09.51.
Kerubo who was also in her first attempt clocked 2:48.01 ahead of Beatrice Seronei who crossed the tape in 2:52.37 ahead of Monica Muthoni who finished a distant third in 2:56.08.
However there was some tense moment after she was stripped off her victory minutes later due to technicalities with her registration documents before she was reinstated.
‘‘Kerubo was supposed to have competed in the half marathon but her sponsors made changes that saw her shift to the full marathon that was received late.
‘’However we have clarified the anomaly and have decided unanimously to grant her the well-deserved victory altogether,’’ explained Zaheda Suleiman, one of the event organisers.
Earlier Kerubo who trains in the Iten area was ecstatic about her performance which she attributed to good preparations and consistency.
‘‘The course was tough due to the variations in the terrain especially the hills which were really energy sapping
With this victory I’m confident I will post good results in the Stanchart Marathon in October as I plan my debut in its main event,’’ added the 25 year old who last won the 10km race in the 2010 edition.
James Muriithi from Meru won the men half marathon race after weathering the chilly morning to cross the tape in 1:03.00 while Erick Ogato followed in second after posting 1:06.19 ten seconds ahead of Stephen Ogaro in third.
Muriithi who performed dismally at the 10,000m national trials in Nyayo stadium was happy with the victory in his third attempt having posted 12th and fourth position in the previous editions.
‘‘I have the experience of having been on this course in 2007 and 2011 so I have better knowledge which slightly gave me an edge over my competitors,’’ he added after the race.
Catherine Kagwiria was the women winner after completing the course in 1:18.43 closely followed by Lekapana Persi in 1:18.59 with Miriam Nakatari a distant third returned 1:22.52.
‘‘Despite the loose surface course which proved a challenge, winning in my first attempt brings joy as I want to maintain the same performance in the Mwea and Ndakaini races later in the year,’’ said Kagwiria who finished 11th in last year’s Stanchart marathon.
About 20 corporates were represented in the half marathon team event which was won by the spectacular Rhino protection team.
The team made up of 10 wardens from the Lewa, Ol Pejeta and Borana was the darling of the crowd after they trounced the rest of the teams despite the members having to carry a 20kg backpack and a rifle throughout the 21km stretch.
‘‘The routine is part of our training but we are happy to be part of the conservation efforts which has been highlighted by our win in this category,’’ said their team leader Simon Irungu at the end of the race.
Other notable participants included 2000 Sydney Paralympics 5000m gold medallist Henry Wanyoike who used the race as part of his preparations ahead of this year’s Paralympics event.
‘‘I plan to double in the 5000m and the marathon in London and this performance is good enough since the course is tough with the hills and valleys so I’m confident of posting a superb show in London,’’ added Wanyoike flanked by his track guide, Joseph Kibunja.
With proceedings going on well throughout the event that kicked off early at 7am with the kids 5km race shortly before the main races 15 minutes later, two athletes Alfred Kiprono and Japheth Kiptony were ruing their chances of missing out on the prize money after their sponsor allegedly deserted them.
‘‘We have been training in Ngong for the last eight months and have just learnt that our sponsor didn’t register for the race and we are difficulties reaching them,’’ said a dejected Kiprono gazing at the horizon as the race progressed.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said the fact that within three weeks since its launch on March 5 the registration had been closed is a sure sign that the event has been well received by Kenyans.
‘‘Since we can’t increase the number of participants from the usual 1,000 due to the nature of the race been held in a wildlife conservancy, we will be looking to bring in more corporate sponsors to greatly boost the proceeds,’’ added Collymore who monitored the race from a chopper.
The annual marathon is geared towards wildlife conservation with proceeds going into community project around the Lewa conservancy.
The winner of the full marathon took home sh150,000 and a 32′ Lcd Tv, with the first runners up getting sh80,000 and a laptop while the third place finisher was awarded with sh60,000 and a mobile phone.
1. Philemon Baaru 2:19.52
2. Julius Ndoria 2:20.27
3. Daniel Mbogo 2:20.33
1. Gladys Kerubo 2:48.01
2. Beatrice Seronei 2:52.37
3. Monica Muthoni 2:56.18
Half Marathon men
1. James Muriithi 1:5:00
2. Erick Ogato 1:06:19
3. Stephen Ogaro 1:06:19
Half Marathon women
1. Catherine Kagweria 1:18:43
2. Lekapana Peresi 1:18:59
3. Miriam Naktari 1:22:52