ISIOLO, Kenya, June 24 – Charging through Lewa’s undulating tough course, 2014 Casablanca winner Philemon Mbaaru prevailed the punishing conditions to successfully retain the men’s Safaricom Marathon title at the 18th edition run at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy on Saturday.
The women’s race went to Iten based Margaret Pepesi who was using the race to gauge his long run pace as she eyes competing in a race she is yet to decide in September.
The race had to be delayed for almost five minutes for the organisers to clear the elephants on the course.
The Lewa Marathon course clearly loves Mbaaru, who won his fifth race at the annual event, only missing the 2015 edition through injury.
The 36-year-old Mbaaru outdid his biggest challenger in the race Daniel Mbogo to stop the timer in 2:22:18 and pocket Sh150, 000 Prize Money and a mobile phone.
Running under scorching sun in the event categorised as one of the toughest marathons in the world where wild animals are privileged to be among the spectators, Mbaaru had Mbogo to thank for pace setting him all the way until the 38km.
However, despite mastering the course, Mbaaru faced stiff competition this year, after having to sweat to catch up with the leading team after delaying to get off at the start.
Battling the tough terrain that had six water stops and five misting stations to cool the heat, Mbaaru made the turning point with three kilometres to the finish line, out kicking Mbogo and go all the way to cut the tape under warm reception of his wife who was waiting for him at the finish.
Experience helped Mbaaru to overtake Mbogo who was out of gas to settle for second place in 2:22:53 while John Mureithi completed the podium in 2:25:42.
Delighted Mbaaru, who finished fifth at this year’s Warszawa Marathon in Poland, called on the organisers to increase the Full Marathon Prize Money to at least Sh200,000 since they same Sh150, 000 is also awarded to the Half Marathon winners.
“Mbogo played a big part in my winning today because he pushed it hard .The leading pack had opened a big gap after the first 10km and following Mbogo helped me catch up with them. The race was not easy but the weather was friendly,” Mbaaru, a father of three children said.
“I had trained on a rough road so that I can to get used to the Lewa course. I thank God for the win. I finished eighth at the Kilimanjaro marathon in February to test my injury.”
-Pepesa rule women-
In the women’s race, Pepesi stunned pre-race favourite and defending champion Fridah Lodepa, who coming to the race had won four consecutive titles.
Pepesi, who faced no stiff competition, clocked 2:38:48 way ahead of Naomi Njeri Nduta who crossed the line in 2:49:29 while Lodepa finished a disappointing third in 2:54:53.
Pepesi, running in Lewa for the first time, had the advantage of his husband Kenneth Kiplagat Tarus who set the pace for her until the 35km mark to see her wife go all the way to the finish line alone.
She made the move after 21Km and ran all the way along the men to grab the title and win Sh150,000 and a mobile phone, saying she will use the money to pay for her seven year-old daughter’s school fees.
“The race was good though the challenges were the hills that were very stiff. I had trained well for this race and that is why I didn’t find any competition. We started the race well. I saw many people infront of me, thinking they were the 42km leading pack so I chased them and realised they were the leading team of the 21Km,” the 27-year-old mother of one daughter stated after the race.
His husband who is also his coach was full of praise to her wife and dedicated the win to their seven year old daughter Michele Chebet.
“I help her in training so that she can record a good time. I dropped after 35Km but I was aware nobody could catch her. We are preparing for the September race,’ Tarus, 29, said.
Philemon Kiprono dominated the men’s Half Marathon in 1:06:00 ahead of Vincent Raimoi (1:06:12) as Titus Karimi came third in1:06:35.
The women’s 21km race went to Betty Karambu who redeemed herself after failing to earn a ticket for the Kenya IAAF London World Championships Trials where she finished fifth in the 10,000m
Karambu clocked1:14:25 ahead of Lucy Karimi (1:15:41) while Pauline Wangui was third in 1:17:18.
1.Philemon Mbaaru 2:22:18
2.Daniel Mbogo 2:22:53
3.John Mureithi 2:25:42
4.Samuel Njuguna 2:25:43
5 Titus Kurgat 2:26:38
6 Charles Rotich 2:29:54
- Joseph Gitau 2:30:36
8 philip Kigen 2:30:55
- Paul Theuri 2:33:23
- Samson Legojine 2:35:20
1 Margret Pepesi Lepekana 2:38:48
2.Naomi Njeri Nduta 2:49:29
- Fridah Lodepa 2:54:53
- Jane Mbogo 2:55:49
5 Risper Chelagat 2:59:48
6.Mary Mwaniki 3:11.39