NAIROBI, Kenya, October 27 – Plummeting numbers and confusion in the 10km races where the women winner was given a faster time than her male equivalent marred the 12th running of Stanchart Nairobi International Marathon that failed to live up to expectations on Sunday.
That will matter little to Peter Kosgei and Eunice Jeptoo who home Sh1.5m (USD 16,772.91) richer after their contrasting conquests in the men and women ultimate distance showdowns that attracted 500 starters in total in another enduring story of the annual blue riband Kenyan showpiece.
For the first time since inception, the number of participants dropped with organisers giving an official figure of 17,000 down from 23,000 provided last year and well short of the targeted 25,000.
The authorised total seemed inflated based on a casual look at those who turned up to run or to attend other satellite activities surrounding the family event held inside and around the precincts of Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium.
– MicroChip failure-
Despite introducing electronic MicroChip used for the first time in the men and women 10km races where Olympics silver medallist and former World Marathon Majors winner, Priscah Jeptoo finished second in the latter.
For the first time in athletics history, organisers stated the women’s winner, Faith Chemutai (35:52) ran faster than the corresponding men’s victor, David Wata (38:30) a muddle that occurred when the lead cars took the former in the wrong direction meaning he covered a longer distance than what he registered for.
“Quite a number of participants are from the fun run but as usual the race once again identified new winners. We encountered technical problems in the 10km where we had the largest entrants but we managed to solve it,” event Local Organing Committee chairman Peter Gitau said.
Nevertheless, the event that has bred world beaters such as former Stanchart Dubai Marathon champion, David Tarus, saw the return of former women’s 10,000m silver medallist Irene Kwambai who was beaten to the tape by Jeptoo in the full marathon.
Kwambai who took a two year sabbatical due to job commitments with Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), is now eying a slot in next year’s Beijing World Championships after stepping up from the track.
The women’s 42km race produced the second slowest time in the event since 2007 when Rose Chesire won in 2:44:14 compared to Jeptoo’s 2: 43:05 but that did not worry Kwambai although alterations were later made to the course.
“I’m trying to get my form back after being out for a long period. My body is responding well I just need to do more in training. This is my best performance in the five marathons that I have run and that has motivated me to do more.
“On the track there are young talented athletes who have pushed me out so I want to concentrate on long distance and if I’m fit I will try my luck to see if I will make it to next year’s world championships,” the 36-year-old corporal based in Mariakani who bagged silver at the 2007 World Military Games told Capital Sport.
The 21km produced young debutants winners that saw 19-year-old Barselius Kipyego who completed High School last year reign the men’s event.
“The course is good and since I have won the half marathon I will come back next year to compete in the full marathon. My body is in good shape and I ‘m looking forward to competing in many local marathons to improve,” Kipyego who won the regional schools cross country title declared.
Lydia Naliaka who won the corresponding women’s race echoed Kipyego’s dreams and is aspiring to become a world beater.
“I will train hard to win more events since I have the energy that helped me beat my opponent five kilometers to the finish line,” 18-year-old Naliaka who trains in Ngong’ said.