MASAI MARA, Kenya, October 5- Former Boston Marathon champion, Caroline Kilel proved her pedigree as Leonard Lang’at outmanoeuvred the field as the pair soared to the women and men Kenya Airways Masai Mara Marathon competing over 21km on Saturday.
In a finish almost mirroring her 2011 Boston victory where she prevailed over American Desiree Davila by two seconds, Kericho based Kilel breast the tape ahead of the hard fighting Faith Jeruto in a close finish with the clocks returning 1:11:15 against 1:11:56. Lucy Liyavonga (1:12:20) closed the podium.
“The course was not all that bad and I hope to feature in bigger races in future. I want to take part in as many challenging events as possible,” said Kilel after marking her debut at the event where the rich wildlife of one of Kenya’s biggest tourist attractions offers a picturesque backdrop.
The winner will be among the five top athletes at the event that will receive sponsorship to feature at the London Marathon courtesy of the national carriers.
In the corresponding men’s race of the event held at Lemek Conservancy, Lang’at claimed a close victory over closest challenger, Ezra Sang (1:03: against 1:03:53) in another enthralling dash for the tape.
Langat who, who horned his skills at the Cheriang’ camp in Bomet County was quick to point out the effects of the strong headwind that blew over the relatively flat course.
“The marathon was good but there was a lot of wind which forced me to stay behind of other athletes to shield myself from the strong wind.
“At 15K I decided to open the gap and I’m very happy I have made the five who were selected by Kenya Airways to compete in London next year.
“It will be my first time to participate in a full marathon and my target is to run under 2.05,” said Langat who finished second in Ndakaini Half Marathon last month.
Defending champion Nicholas Kipkemboi ran1:04:0 to settle for third.
The men’s five kilometers was not devoid of excitement with Isaac Korir earning a split second win over Moses Koiyaki.
Athletics Kenya president Isaiah Kiplagat applauded this event challenging the organisers to consider converting it into a cross country in the next edition due to its grass surface.
“Today’s event is very interesting, the organization was good all went well and we are here to promote athletics in this region bearing in mind this is a conservancy,” he added.
Masai Mara Marathon is an annual event held within the Mara ecosystem to raise funds to address the needs of the people who live there including sanitation and water conservation.
Athletes selected for London Marathon
Caroline Kilel, Faith Jeruto, Ezra Sang, Leonard Langat and David Oloisa