ISIOLO, Kenya, June 28 – Former Porto Marathon winner Philemon Baaru, entered into history books as the first ever three-peat winner of the men’s race at the annual Safaricom Lewa Marathon on Saturday in Isiolo.
In the women’s event, 2009 Kuala Lumpur Marathon winner Fridah Lodepa, successfully defended her title after clocking 2:51:31, four minutes faster than last year, ahead of Linah Chirchir (2:55:41) and Monicah Muthoni who took the minor podium places.
However, the day belonged Baaru, who took the honours in 2:18:09, nine seconds ahead of Elijah Mbogo who repeated his placing from last year while Peter Wahome stopped the timer in 2:21:00 to lead the challengers’ home in the tough course for third.
Running under baking conditions, of the annual event which is categorised as one of the toughest marathons where wild animals are privileged to be among the spectators saw Baaru, the 2007 Hastings Half Marathon winner, once again display his mastery to prevail.
The delighted winner immediately set lofty ambitions, to attack the 2:03:24 world record of Wilson Kipsang.
“Today’s race was not easy because it had a lot of challenges, we were running as a pack up to 33km where four of us decided to open the gap and after that, I managed to lead up to the finish line.
“The course was not easy since it had hills, slopes and stones. The sand was dragging me behind although the weather was not that bad but since I knew the route well, I had no problem going all the way to the finish,” elated 34-year-old, Baaru who resides in Nyeri County said after crossing the finish line.
“It’s not easy to win three times in succession in Kenya because people nowadays train hard but I thank my family for the support they gave me that enabled me to work hard and prepare well.
“The secret of winning is doing a lot of practice and committing yourself and having self discipline, I will now take a break shortly before running in October, Baaru who has a Personal Best of 2:07:49 declared.
The helicopter and spotter plane went airborne as early as 6am to keep away dangerous animals like Lions and elephants in the Lewa Downs Conservancy the event is held but 33-year-old Lodepa who trains in Iten attributed her success to her husband and coach Elikanah Ruto.
“I didn’t expect to defend the title since today’s competition was very stiff and the weather was very hot but when we reached 24 km, Chirchir and I decided to separated from the rest up to the finish.
“I thank my husband who was a former athlete for coaching me up to this level and inspiring me. For now I have not planned my next race, I will just take a rest,” Lodepa who finished third in this year’s Rwanda Peace Marathon stated.
Both winners took home Sh150, 000 (1,713.70USD).
Nathan Mathenge from Embu clinched the men’s Half Marathon after clocking 1:05:14, only two seconds ahead of Robert Mbithi while Patrick Kithinji completed the podium after posting 1:06:24.
In the women’s category, Eunice Mwendwa dominated the race with a time of 1:15:46 while Lucy Karemi finished second after recording 1:17:19, one minute ahead of Peredis Lekapana who was third.