Samuel Macharia and John Keter arrived at the finish dead heat in the men’s 10K race as Catherine Moses took top honours in the corresponding women’s 5K event under baking hot conditions in Garsen.
The relevance of promoting peace overshadowed the main races that were not timed as co-existence among the warring communities of Pokomo and Orma took centre stage in the annual affair that was shifted from its traditional venue of Kapenguria.
Race founder and former women’s world marathon record holder, Tegla Loroupe, one of the 52 Champions of Peace global ambassadors of elite sportspersons was among the competitors in the men’s race where she finished 84th flagging off the race with local Member of Parliament, Danson Mungatana.
“I’m a runner myself and sport unites everyone since it attracts every member of the society. As athletes, we cannot implement peace but we can lay a platform for leaders to engage their people.
“I’m very happy with the turn-up here since when I visited here in September, people were killing each other but now, the two communities have embraced peace,” the twice Rotterdam Marathon and three-time World Half Marathon winner explained.
Daniel Komen, the 3000m men world record holder who was also involved in the race said they would roll out a comprehensive programme to foster tranquillity in the region where 38 people, including nine police officers were killed in a September 10 attack that commanded global headlines.
A curfew imposed on the region was partially lifted to allow the event to run with heavy escort accorded to the visitors to the area that included 50 reformed warriors from the Pokot, Marakwet, Karamanjoong and Turkana communities of Northern Kenya and Southern Uganda who shared their experiences.
In the women’s race, Catherine Moses sped off a kilometre from the gun to complete a comprehensive victory well clear or runner-up and local runners, Mwanidi Ali and Alia Abodu who incidentally, hailed from the warring communities of Pokomo and Orma much to the cheer of the crowd.
In the men’s race, Samuel Macharia and John Keter broke away from home athlete Godane Boneyi in the final kilometre after the trio ran unopposed for half of the race.
Macharia and Keter entered the finish area vest-to-vest and breast the tape together but race officials gave it to the former where once again, there was no timing to separate the pair.
Boneyi held on for third as Daniel Chai rounded up the top four.
“We have come here to show that we accepted what happened and we can now move on for the sake of peace. The race was tough in the end but it was worth it,” Keter, a hawker who trains in Malindi said after the race.
Over 400 runners took part.