NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 25- Blatant cheating stole the thunder from thrilling victories of Joshua Kipkorir and Elizabeth Rumokoi at the 13th edition of the Stanchart Nairobi Marathon that had the most dramatic of conclusions on Sunday in an overcast Kenyan capital.,
Julius Njogu crossed the line in second position for what he thought would be a handsome payday in the ultimate distance male race but race organisers disqualified the 28-year old after it was established he had joined the leading pack of three as they approached the Nyayo National Stadium finish.
“I’m second. I didn’t cheat since I followed the course unless there was another. I have trained for this marathon and I’m disappointed I’m not recognised,” Njogu, who upheld his ruse, told reporters.
It left a bitter aftertaste on an otherwise tremendous day for elite and fun runners who took over the streets of the Kenyan capital as Athletics Kenya Executive Member and International Technical Official Ibrahim Hussein said such cases should be criminalised to reduce such incidents in future.
“He didn’t finish second. I followed the leading team from start to finish and I didn’t see him. He will not be recognised and I’m so disappointed that one can cheat in this modern age,” the retired former two-time Boston Marathon champion and head of the IAAF Regional Development Centre in Nairobi lamented.
This is not the first time the showpiece domestic marathon has been marred by cheats. In 2013, two athletes claimed to have bagged the main women’s race before they were unmasked as phonies.
Despite the anticlimax, the race perpetuated its tradition of ushering in newcomers to the high pedestal of prestige with Kipkorir and Rumokoi each taking home Sh1.5m ($14,662.85) for clinching the honours in the punishing elevation of 1,680m in the annual event.
Kaptagat based Kipkorir cut the tape in 2:13:25 to win his first marathon ahead of Shadrack Kiptoo (2:13:56) who was elevated in the podium in placed of the displaced Njogu while Hilary Kiplimo rounded the medallists in 2:14:18 as the men’s race came down to a thrilling contest over the final kilometres..
“The course was good but towards the finish I had stomach problems. In my first marathon in Kisumu, I finished 20th so coming to Stanchart I had to run from behind to preserve the finishing energy. Being my first major local win, I hope to get a manager to enable me enhance my career,” 20-year-old Kipkorir said.
The men’s race was a tight affair until the 28 km when the pack of five led by Kipkorir dispensed the competition to turn the contest into a three-pronged battle for the tape as the opened the gap as they motored to the finish, Njogu’s sudden appearance not denting their resolve.
In the corresponding women’s race, Rumokoi stopped the clock at 22:29:32 to stun Kericho Marathon champion, Georgina Rono, a third finisher at the 2012 Boston Marathon, who finished second in 2:32:06 while Rionotukai Chemtai settled third in 2:34:46.
Rono led the better part of the race as the overcast weather that greeted the start paved way for temperate conditions before she ran out of gas at the 35km with 32-year old Rumokoi reeling in the front runner and take charge of the closing stages for a rewarding maiden marathon victory.
“The race was hard because it was my first time. I can’t believe I have won because the race had a deep field. I was fearing Rono and when he went ahead, I dint follow her immediately since she is experience but when I saw she was tired, I closed the gap,” Rumokoi who has ran races in Indonesia, declared after winning.
The athletes tackled the course that was flagged off inside Nyayo Stadium by Nairobi Governor, Dr Evans Kidero, headed to Harambee Avenue, took on Kenyatta Avenue all the way to University Way before a turning point at Forest Road, back to Uhuru Highway then Lang’ata Road before entering Mombasa Road and back to Lusaka Road to finish inside the stadium.
Patrick Kipngeno dominated the men’s 21km race after finishing first in 1:02:42 ahead of Nicholas Kipchirchir (1:02:49) as Geoffrey Kipyego settled third in 1:02:58.
Purity Jebichi won the corresponding women race in 1:11:17 to beat former world junior cross champion and Ndakaini Half Marathon winner, Pauline Korikwang who finished second in 1:12:03 as Lucy Cheruiyot was third in 1:12:41.
1.Joshua Kipkorir 2:13:25
2. Shadrack Kimaiyo 2:13:56
3 Hilary Kiplimo 2:14:18
4 Moses Mengich 2:14:40
5.Details not captured 2:15:03
6 Donald Sambu 2:15:39
7. Eric Koech 2:16:33
8. Julius Kilimo 2:16:36
9. Hilary Kipsambu 2:16:39
10. Kennedy Cheboror 2:17:01
1.Elizabeth Rumokoi 2:29:32
2 Georgina Rono 2:32:06
3 Rionotukai Chemtai 2:34:46
4 Sarah Jebet 2:35:01
5 Gladys Chemwono 2:36:27
6 Leah Kiprono 2:36:55
7 Missy Terry 2:37:08
8 Beatrece Cherop 2:37:08
9 Details not captured 2:37:10
10 Susan Kogei 2:39:02