The event that attracted a mammoth crowd of 30,000 marked history as Margaret Kenyatta became the first First Lady to complete the full 21Km course in 3:46:00 in her preparations to compete at the April 19’s London Marathon to raise funds for her charity Beyond Zero that benefited from all proceeds from Sunday’s race.
Running alongside former world marathon record holders, two-time World champion Charity Ndereba and Tegla Loroupe who gave her star studded company, her coach and 1987 World Champion, Douglas Wakiihuri with a medical team and ten elite Recce Unit officers, Ms Kenyatta was warmly hugged by her spouse, President Uhuru Kenyatta, when she arrived at the finish in an enduring moment that brought cheers from those present.
The first couple’s moment of affection was buried under a surging crowd of enthusiastic supporters, creating a security nightmare as people, security officers top Government officials and a battery of local and international media scrambled to witness the rare spectacle.
Rachel Ruto, the spouse of Deputy President, William Ruto, also finished the race much later with eight Cabinet Secretaries, a similar number of envoys and other high ranking officials of the Jubilee Government also taking part in the 21Km, 10Km and 2Km races of the day in support of the First Lady’s charity.
In the business end of the activities, Kiprono who hails from Uasin Gishu and is preparing to run Prague Half Marathon in May clocked 1:03:02 to register personal history as the first male winner of the race prepped to be an annual affair nine seconds ahead of Declerk Onari (1:03:11) with Kevin Kochei (1:03:14)to complete the podium after taking control from the 11km mark.
Overcast conditions opened up to bright sunshine as the field tackled the course that started at Uhuru Gardens before heading down Nairobi’s Lang’ata and Mombasa roads before looping back to the start as thousands of professional athletes and fun runners put their best foot forward for the cause seeking to equip all 47 Counties in Kenya with mobile ambulances to stem mortality among child bearing mothers.
“The race was good since the course was superb. We ran as a pack until 11km then I realized they don’t have strength and I decided to open the gap.
“I ran last at Eldoret’s Discovery marathon where I did not perform well so I’m very happy to win this race its means a lot to me,” Kiprono who trains in Uasin Gishu stated after finishing the race.
The corresponding women’s race was so close but Mosop recorded 1:13:40 to claim top spot, four seconds ahead of last year’s Nairobi international Standard Chartered Marathon winner and Kenya Defence Forces runner, Winfridah Kwamboka, with hard chasing Mary Wangui settling for third, stopping the clock at 1:13:55.
“I thank God for emerging victorious today. I didn’t know I was at the leading group until we covered at 10km where I turned back and saw only men were coming through and four of us (Ladies).
“At 17km I decided to take over the race since I knew they could get tired following me. The race was a little bit difficult since I was affected by stomach upsets because I did not warm up for the race,” the 22 years old, who trains in Iten alongside world marathon record holder, Wilson Kipsang explained.
Both winners in each categories received Sh200, 000 (USD 2,312.14) as second placed received Sh100, 000 (USD 1,156.1) while third place walked away with Sh75, 000 (USD 867.052).
“You came and ran because you believe in this dream. We ran for elimination of HIV transmission from mother to child. We must run until we go Beyond Zero and run until there are no more preventable deaths of mothers and children.”
Ndereba who clocked 2:18:47 to break the women’s Chicago marathon in 2001 said she was not surprised after finishing more than one hour of her usual in First Lady’s Marathon.
“To have that company of running with the First Lady it means a lot and how supportive our leaders are. She knows the pride of being a woman and a mother. I know what it means to hold a healthy baby after delivery and as long as this initiative will be there I will continue supporting it.
“It was nice pacing here and giving here morale. She is so energetic and has a lot of passion and I can say she is a marathoner coming up. What stood out today is when I saw our President waiting the First lady at the finishing line, it reminded me the way my husband used to wait me in front of the finish line of Chicago or Boston Marathon,” the four-time Boston Marathon winner told of the experience with running with the First Lady.
Corporate citizens came forth in might to support the initiative, some 45 sponsors and partners in total, with Equity Bank presenting a cheque of Sh50m (USD 578,034.7) and car manufacturer General Motors donating a mobile clinic worth Sh10m (USD 115,606.94) to support the beyond zero campaign.
Athletics Kenya (AK) Isaiah Kiplagat, said the event was one of the most successful in the field of sports and called for more of such events.
“We need to organize more events of this nature in all parts of our country to help in peace building and ensure tranquility amongst all Kenyans,” the AK chief stated.
1. Hillary Kiprono 1:03:02
2. De Clerk Onari 1:03:11
3. Kevin Kochei 1:03:14
4. Paul Matheka 1:03:16
5. Peter Mwololo 1:03:40
6. Joel Melly 1:03:44
7. Kipkemoi Langat 1:03:51
8. Daniel Limo 1:03:58
9. Mathew Rotich 1:03:59
10. Hosea Mailel 1:04:90
1. Leonida Mosop 1:13:40
2. Winfidah Kwamboka 1:13:44
3. Mary Wangui 1:13:55
4. Margaret Waithera 1:13:04
5. Monicah Wangari 1:15:15
6. Nancy Kamaiyo 1:15:17
7. Ruth Nundu 1:15:33
8. Dorcus Nzembi 1:15:43
9. Mary Njoki 1:15:57
10. Janet Jeruto 1:16:19