MOMBASA, Kenya, May 15- Running in punishing humidity, Wilson Loyanai and Rose Kerubo mastered the harsh conditions to win the men and women races of the Safaricom Mombasa International Marathon on Sunday.
With rain at the start alternating with the intense heat of Kenya’s coastal city, Loyanai made his decisive move at 41km to lead Fredrick Mwangirwa and Jacob Yator across the tape to mark his first ever marathon victory in the men’s race.
“It was an intense competition against the leading runners and we kept exchanging leads from 35km. With a kilometre to go, I summoned all the energy I had to race for the line and I’m so happy to have won here. It is my hope this will open doors for me,” Lodwar born Loyanai, 26, said after striking the jackpot on his third marathon in 2:13:00.
“Running 2:13 in Mombasa is motivational since I believe I can run faster in better conditions. The heat and humidity was harsh but now I can look forward to getting invited to bigger races,” the self-coached athlete based in Eldoret added.
Mwangirwa, who comes from Tigania East dipped home in 2:13:10 for the bridesmaid position with Yator closing the podium in 2:13:58. Sammy Kemboi (2:16:15) and Benson Kiprono (2:20:00) finished fourth and fifth.
“The organisers should consider adding the prize money since this is a tough event with the course full of elevations. Even though the altitude is low, the humidity makes running good times impossible,” Mwangirwa, who brought experience gained in races in Hong Kong, Taipei and Malaysia noted.
While the men’s race was a cat and mouse affair between the front runners, Kerubo, the Commonwealth fifth finisher was paced by husband Elias Monibi to a runaway victory in the women’s race, completing the course in 2:39:01.
“We planned this as a family and my husband was leading me and helping me with the water. However, they (organisers) should do something about traffic control and add more water stations since we had problems with the cars,” Kerubo stated.
“It is very pleasing for all the hard work we put in training at Kisii and recently Ngong paid. I sacrificed my own ambition for her since she had the better chance of winning her race. We are so happy,” Monibi stated.
There was drama in the women’s finale when Rebecca Talam who was poised to come second to the charging winner stopped 800m from the tape and started heading back to the direction they had come from.
Prompting from race marshals and police officers to lead her in the right course were resisted as she came to a complete stop.
This allowed last year’s winner, Tabitha Kibet to seize advantage and stride to silver in 2:43:01 as Talam finally got her bearings correct to cross in 2:46:55 for third. Anastasia Ndereba, younger sister to double World champion and two-time Olympics silver winner, Catherine secured fourth in 2:49:59 with Eunice Korir closing the top-five in 2:50:12.
Both winners pocketed Sh250,000 in prize money in the event sponsored by mobile service provider, Safaricom.
The event also featured the men and women 10km road races.
1. Wilson Loyanai 2:13:00
2. Fredrick Mwangirwa 2:13:18
3. Jacob Yator 2:13:10
4. Sammy Kemboi 2:16:15
5. Benson Kiprono 2:20:00
1. Rose Kerubo 2:39:01
2. Tabitha Kibet 2:43:54
3. Rebecca Talam 2:46:55
4. Anastasia Ndereba 2:49:59
5. Eunice Korir 2:50:12