Jubilation in Eldoret as Kenyans rule Chicago Marathon
It was joy and jubilation in Eldoret town as hundreds thronged entertainment joints to watch Sunday’s Chicago Marathon which saw double world marathon champion Abel Kirui and Florence Kiplagat lead Kenyan podium sweeps in the men and women races.
“My prediction has come true since I knew Abel was going to bring home the medal. I had come to Eldoret to witness the Family Bank Half Marathon but had to wait for the Chicago Marathon before going back home to Ziwa,” Abraham Mutwol, a resident of Uasin Gishu County said.
Kirui who had never won a World Marathon Majors race outside the World Championships out-lasted 2015 winner, Dickson Chumba (2:11:26), in a duel to the death over the final two kilometres to complete the course in 2:11:23.
The public places with big screens attracted more fans as Kiplagat (2:21:32) dominated the women’s race after taking off shortly before the 30km mark and the crowd became wild when two-time women’s world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat (2:23:28) crossed the tape in second almost two minutes adrift of the winner.
“To me it was not a surprise because I know for a long time Kenyan runners have been good performers at the Chicago Marathon. Abel is a seasoned athlete who is fully dedicated in training,” Kiptoo Matui who won the defunct Greatest Race on Earth Series in 2005 at the Singapore Stanchart International Marathon said.
He called on authorities to honour athletes who continue to dominate international events more despite the spectre of doping.
“Many at times leaders have promised good things to our runners only to be welcomed by few family members at the airport and that ends there until another race,” Matui rued.
Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor, Daniel Chemno, who joined residents to watch the marathon on television, said the exemplary performance had inspired the North Rift Economic Bloc (Noreb) to organise an international race in Eldoret.
“The County Government of Uasin Gishu is on the forefront, rallying the Noreb members to organise one big race at the City of Champions,” Chemno said.
He added the County Government is putting the modern Chagaiya High Altitude Training Centre at a cost of Ksh 170million to help athletes in the region.
Gideon Kipketer (2:12:20) and Valentine Kipketer (2:23:41) completed the Kenyan sweeps in the men and women races by finishing third.
Elsewhere, newly-coined Olympic marathon champion, Jemimah Sumgong was joined jubilant champions and residents of Kapsabet who converged at a viewing of the race organised at Tortoise Resort that is owned by 2008 Beijing Olympics champion, Wilfred Bungei.
Before action started, the athletes were taken through advise on investment, taxes and other matters related to finance.
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