NAIROBI, Kenya, September 14 – Bernard Kitur led a field of nearly one thousand contenders for the top honours in the men’s race as Sarah Chepchirchir collected the women’s during the 2013 running if the UAP Ndakaini Half Marathon on Saturday.
Kitur stopped the clock at 1:04.47 to sew the men’s 21km race a second ahead of fast finishing Leonard Koech(1:04.48) in an enthralling conclusion to the race as Kirui Kipsang (1:05.48) led the chasing pack home to share the podium with the pair.
Kitur, fresh from winning the Safaricom Gusii Half Marathon, will take up pace making duties at the September 29 Berlin Marathon on his next outing.
“It was all about being patient and stamina with the hilly and sloppy course proving a great challenge and this was a very good build up for the Berlin Marathon,” said Kitur, who has boasts of personal best 1:00.00 from a fourth place finish at the Valencia Half in April.
Chepchirchir clocked 1:14.35 for victory in the corresponding women’s race with well clear of runners-up Gladys Kipsoi (1:16.02) as Caroline Cheptanui Kilel (1:17.31) arrived for third in the race where the winner shifted through the gears over the last two kilometres to sew up the race.
Running in sweltering heat, with temperatures reaching 25 degrees, Kitur and Chepchirchir weathered the hilly Ndakaini terrain around the 21Km course which sits at a high altitude of 2040 meters above sea level.
Kitur and Chepchirchir pocketed Sh150,000 (1,711.35USD) each for winning the race.
In the 10Km races, James Mwangi emerged first by posting 29.45.60 followed by Ezekiel Kosgei with 29.52.40 and Amos Keptich in third with the timer reading 29.57.70.
Other athletes who finished in the top ten were Peter Matelong, a younger brother to Commonwealth steeplechase titleholder, Richard Mateelong in fifth, Ismael John, Hosea Nailei, David Lagat, Enock Kipchirchir, Kaniu Wanjiku and Charles Kimeli in that order.
In the women’s event, Peninah Kigen finished first in a time of 34.49.88 with Josephine Wanjiku trailing close in 34.50.80 as Maryanne Murinju closed the podium.
For both Kitur and Chepchirchir this was the first time they were taking part at the event dubbed as one of the toughest in the world due to the winding hilly nature of the course and high altitude.
The annual event has been held for ten years to raise funds for conserving the Ndakaini Dam, a water reservoir that benefits more than 4 million people majority of who live in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
Speaking at the medal presentation ceremony, UAP Insurance Managing Director James Wambugu said that the half marathon had this year raised Sh4 million (45,636.05USD) which will be channelled to the environmental conservation program which is run by Ndakaini Dam Environmental Conservation Association a local community based organization.
This is the event the late Olympics marathon titleholder, Samuel Wanjiru, competed in the inaugural edition, finishing 21st before he went on to be a world beater by adding the London and Chicago marathon (twice) crowns to his Beijing 2008 Games triumph.