SAN JOSE, October 6 – Kenyan athletes were in fine form over the weekend winning several races around the world.,
Gilbert Okari clinched victory at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in San Jose on Sunday while Sammy Kurgat won Cologne marathon in Germany. In Newcastle, Magdalene Mukunzi was runners up while World marathon champion Luke Kibet was fourth.
The 30 year old Kenyan broke away from the lead pack at mile nine and cruised to victory in 1:01:46. It only his second half marathon but he had too much ahead of Moroccan Ridouane Harroufi who finished second with 1:01:57.
American Josh Rohatinsky and Adam Goucher pushed the pace for the first three miles with the leading pack of eleven runners hitting the 10k mark in stride at 29:16.
Entering the final four miles to the finish, the men’s lead pack began to thin out as the pace picked up dramatically and Okari began to pull away, gradually dropping American Rohatinsky.
A relative newcomer to long distance running, Okari was a late addition to the elite athlete field.
“I’m very happy to be back running and win my first half marathon,” said Okari, who has been injured for most of the past two years. “I changed my pace after the 10k mark and had plenty of energy the last few miles.”
“In the future I want to concentrate on long distances and run more half marathons,” added Okari, who will run another half marathon next Sunday in Boston and says he will hopes to transition to running only the full marathon distance in the next year.
In the women’s race, Anne Kosgei finished third 1:11:53 in a race won by Yuri Kano.
In Germany, Kurgat set a new course record of 2:10:03, beating fellow countryman and defending champion Daniel Too into second as he won Cologne marathon.
Young Ethiopian Robe Guta celebrated her biggest win so far, clocking her first sub 2:30 time with 2:29:39.
The 33 year-old Kurgat was in a big leading group of about ten runners, who passed the half way mark in a promising 1:04:32.
At 30 km (1:31:55) there were still eight runners in the lead pack, but then one after one dropped back. Kurgat also slowed but he had a comfortable lead and finished more than half a minute in front of Too who reached the finish in 2:10:37.
Thomas Chemitei was third with 2:11:20. Kenyans dominated the men’s race, taking the first six places and eight of the top ten. Kurgat improved the four-year-old course record of fellow Kenyan James Rotich by 19 seconds.