NAIROBI, Kenya, October 11- Mary Keitany set a course record and capped a fine 2009 season to win the women’s IAAF World Half Marathon in Birmingham on Sunday.
Keitany who led for most of the race spearheaded a Kenya one-two finish by clocking 1:06:36 ahead of compatriot Philes Ongori who set a personal best of 1:07:38.
However it was a disappointing return in the men’s event with Benard Kipyego as Kenya’s sole representative on the podium in second place.
Kipyego crossed the finish line in a time of 59.59, 24 seconds behind defending champion Zersenay Tadese who won the event for the fourth year running by setting a course record of 59:35.
Sammy Kitwara who was expected to be the main challenger to Tadese’s crown finished a disappointing tenth in 1:01:59.
Kitwara who earlier this year was dropped from the national team for the World Athletics Championships, led the race for the first 5 km before alarmingly fading away to hover between ninth and tenth position for the remainder of the course.
Keitany showed why she set the best time in the world this year with a dominating display through the streets of the English midland city despite a strong challenge from Aberu Kebede of Ethiopia who clinched third place with a personal best of 1:07:39.
Caroline Kilel also set a personal best of 1:08:16 to finish fourth while Flomena Cheyech’s eighth place finish ensured that four Kenyans finished in the top ten.
Kipyego broke the Eritrean duopoly of Tadese and Samuel Tsegay after the 20km mark to ensure that Kenya bags a medal in the men’s event.
Wilson Kiprotich, Wilson Chebet and Kiplimo Kimutai finished fourth, sixth and seventh respectively bringing the number of Kenyan’s in the men’s top ten to five.
Kenya clinched the overall team title with an aggregate time of 3:22:30 with Eritrea and Russia behind in second and third respectively.