KAMPALA, Uganda, November 24- Having seen Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich upstage them at the Olympics and World Championships, Kenyan runners gained some measure of revenge by scooping the double at Sunday’s 10th running of the MTN Kampala Marathon.
Dominic Kimwetich Kangor, 24, successfully held on to his men’s 42km title to become the first repeat winner of the event whilst Kapsabet based full-marathon debutant Gladys Kipsoi, 28, enjoyed a dream start to her ultimate distance career by clinching the corresponding women’s race as the Kenyans broke into Ugandan armoury and stole the headlines in a commanding show of dominance.
By the time Kangor and Kipsoi raced to the USh14m (Sh560,000) winner’s prize money apiece, Kiprotich, who won the top medal at both London Olympics and Moscow Worlds had left the Kagogo Airstrip finishing area but there was no denying which nation was on top on this occasion as the hosts were let to dominate the lesser races namely, 21km and 10km events.
“I won the 21km race of this event three years ago and it opened up the doors for me since this year and the last have seen me bring pride to my nation.
“The turnout by Ugandans here today (Sunday) shows how I have inspired many to take athletics and the future is bright for this country,” Kiprotich said as the athletes tackled the tough course with a few hills in the event ran under overcast conditions and high humidity following heavy overnight rains in the Ugandan capital.
Kangor seeks to three-peat
Having come here last year and demolished the field, Eldoret based Eagle Athletics Club runner, David Kangor, retained his men’s title in a more crushing victory over the field in 2:15:06, chalking off over two minutes from his winning time last year.
The Brighton Marathon champion stepped up the pace at 12km before allowing the leading pack to push up the pace until the 32K mark to thin the frontrunners to Ethiopian Haile Berhamu, Uganda’s Patrick Cherotwo and himself.
Five kilometres later and seemingly distraught at the slow pace, he pressed his foot down the accelerator and motored away for victory.
His second decisive surge built such an advantage over his rivals that none was anywhere near when two motorcycles crashed on the last bend to the homestretch causing him to stop before jumping over them and sprinting for the tape.
“I want to come back next year and win a third now that I’m the first to win this race twice. Understanding the course helped a lot and despite the interference, I was able to take two minutes off my time from last year.
“It is my wish to also defend my Brighton Marathon title and to be included in the Kenyan team for the Commonwealth Games in Scotland next year,” the elated winner told.
“Having just run his PB (2:11:56) in Melbourne in October (13), he told me he was interested in coming to Uganda to defend his title and I agreed and I’m happy it worked.
“The world should watch out for him since he is a young runner but I do not intend on entering him in many races so that he does not burn out,” his coach, Phillip Maiyo, who accompanied him alongside six of his club-mates added.
The tiring Haile and Cherotwo were overtaken by his fast finishing compatriot Paul Matheka (2:17:02) for the Kenyan 1-2 as the home runner claimed bronze in 2:18:10 with the Ethiopian finishing just outside the medals eight seconds adrift.
“Look, I finished number three,” Haile insisted still not believing he had been pushed back the finishing order as the exertions of the tough course took their toll.
Kipsoi glows in debut win
Having spent the last few years of her career in the half marathon and 10K, 15K and 25K road races, Kipsoi decided two months ago to step up to the ultimate distance.
The single athlete resorted to the Internet to search for a race in East Africa where she could make her silent announcement to gauge her fortitude and the MTN Kampala Marathon provided the best option.
“When I contacted the organisers, they asked me to register through Athletics Kenya and that is how I found myself here.
“I’m sure my manager in France will be very impressed with my win here and book me races in Europe,” the thrilled winner who detached herself from her challengers at the 22km for an obstructed (if you remove the trailing men runners) view to the tape told.
“I was impressed by the organisation save for the motorbikes that kept cutting to us and in some cases, colliding with the runners but despite the bad weather at the start and tough course, it was such fun and I wish to return here again and again,” the runner who is coached by Said Aziz, who made his name as the 2008 Olympics 800m women’s champion, Pamela Jelimo, trainer in her Annus Mirabilis stated.
The winner arrived at the tape in 2:40:05, well over four minutes ahead of runner-up Rosina Kiboino (2:44:58) and Sally Jemutai (2:46:58) who sealed the Kenyan podium sweep.
An unlisted Ethiopian runner took fourth with Ugandan Irene Chemusto (2:55:16) further breaking their neighbour’s monotony in a race where Kenyans took six of the top ten positions.
As a spectacle, the event enveloped Kampala in a sea of yellow, the corporate colour of the title sponsors as it marked it decade themed ‘Run for Water’ with monies raised due for provision of the precious commodity to the remote Karamajoong region of Uganda.
“I cannot say more, the turn out here is enough proof that we have managed to reach most Ugandans and having an inspirational athlete like Kiprotich has helped in bringing out the numbers.
“As a company, the association between Kampala Marathon and us is part of our presence in this country and we will be involved as long as we operate in this country,” MTN Uganda CEO, Mazen Mroue said.
In total, over 22,000 participants took part in the full, 21km and 10km events on Sunday, braving the Kampala chill to take to the streets with vengeance with more than 100,000 converging at the route and Kololo Airstrip as the spectacle unfolded.
Ugandan pair Daniel Rotich (1:03:54) and Linet Toroitich (1:16:00) caught the bouquets in the men and women 21km events with the home nation also clinching the double in the 10km runs courtesy of Phillip Kipyeko (29:20) and Nancy Cheptegei (35:26).
1. Dominic Kimwetich KEN 2:15:06
2. Paul Katisa KEN 2:17:02
3. Patrick Cherotwo UGD 2:18:10
4. Haile Berhamu ETH 2:18:18
5. Francis Musana UGD 2:18:20
6. Earnest Kipruto KEN 2:18:36
7. John Birgen KEN 2:18:50
8. Wycliffe Simotwo UGD 2:20:07
9. Martin Nyakua UGD 2:20:40
10. Moses Cherop UGD 2:25:23
WOMEN 42KM (ALL KENYAN UNLESS STATED)
1. Gladys Kipsoi 2:40:05
2. Rosina Kiboino 2:44:58
3. Sally Jemutai 2:46:58
4. Not listed
5. Irene Chemusto UGD 2:55:16
6. Abigail Toroitich 2:56:41
7. Truphena Kurui 3:00:28
8. Gladys Cheruiyot 3:06:19
9. Agnes Cheptitos UGD 3:15:06
10. Ruth Ahimbisiwe UGD 3:22:45