NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 8 –Moses Kosgei and Georgina Rono are the 2015 First Lady’s Half Marathon 21km men and women champions after dominating the second edition that unfolded at a new course in baking hot conditions on Sunday.
Each received Sh750, 000 (USD 8,232.77) for clinching the honours in the event that attracted over 16,000 participants where 3000 took part in the main race.
It was a sweet victory for little known Kosgei who breast the tape in a close contest, stopping the clock at 1:01:28, seven seconds ahead of Andrew Kimutai while former 5000 and 10,000m African Junior champion Mathew Kisorio rounded the podium in 1:01:53.
The corresponding women’s race saw Rono, who finished third at 2012 Boston Marathon was credited with 1:04: 05, that would have beaten Florence Kiplagat’s world record of 1:05:12 set in Barcelona last month but organisers were quick to admit the electronic timing used in the race was defective.
“We shall provide the hand timings tomorrow (Monday) because there is no way she could have run such a time,” Local Organising Committee chairman, Barnabas Korir, later clarified to Capital Sport on phone.
Other top results provided after the race were subsequently invalidated after reflecting super fast times in punishing high altitude of Nairobi with those given for the men also under scrutiny.
However, there was no denying the commanding victory for Rono who was well clear of 2013 Venice marathon winner Mercy Kibarus as pre-race favourite and 2013 Frankfurt champion Caroline Kilel finished third.
Kosgei and Rono who both won a local event for the first time staged brilliant performances tackling the new course that was flagged off outside Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium before heading to Uhuru Highway, Lang’ata Road, Mombasa Road and then turned back at General Motors to finish inside the stadium via Bunyala Road.
“I increased the pace after covering 18km to see if they will close the gap but they didn’t react so I used my tactics to push for the final kick,” Kosgei who was using the event to prepare for Lisbon marathon declared.
On her part Rono who finished second at 2012 Frankfurt marathon was delighted to win her first local race.
“The race was very difficult because there were experienced runners; we ran in a pack of four before splitting one km to the finish and I feel proud for winning my first local race. I was using this to prepare for next month’s Paris marathon,” the 29-year-old who trains in Kapsabet said after the race.
The men’s race was very competitive with the three top athletes streaming in the stadium following each other as they were cheered from thousands of fans who turned up for the event.
James Mwangi (29:03.0) and Rosemary Wanjiru (30:25.0) won the men and women 10km races.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta successfully finished the 21km race, marking the climax of her Beyond Zero campaign.
Mrs Kenyatta who was accompanied by two-time 3000m steeplechase Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi, former women’s world marathon record holder Catherine Ndereba and former World Half marathon champion Lonah Kiplagat clocked 3:24.55.
This is an improvement from last year’s 3:53.05 which is attributed to her intense training at the high altitude areas in Iten this year.
She was received at the finish line by her spouse President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto who also participated in the marathon, promising to encourage the Head of State to also start exercising to keep fit.
“I have been encouraging him (the President) a lot, some people have already bought him a pair of shoes and I also bought him pants so I know he will hit the gym very soon,” Ruto said at the finish.
Other notable personalities who ran include the Deputy President’s wife Rachael, Cabinet Secretaries Hassan Wario (Sports, Arts and Culture), Anne Waiguru, (Devolution and planning) Joseph Nkaisery (Internal Security) among others.
The Beyond Zero campaign marathon is an initiative aimed at raising 600 million shillings to equip mobile clinics in 27 counties.
RESULTS ROUND UP
1.Moses Kosgey 1:01:28
- Andrew Kimutai 1:01:35
- Mathew Kisorio 1: 01:53
- Alfred Kimeli 1:01:59
- Peter Emase 1:02:04
- Isaac Kipkoech 1:02:09
- Decleark Onari 1:02:12
- Nelphat Sirma 1:02:17
- Albert Kangongo 1:02: 23
- Henry Kiplagat 1:02:32