Kimitei and Kipketer soar to FLHM 21km titles


Wilfred Kimitei on way to winning the 21km men First Lady Half Marathon race at ...
Wilfred Kimitei on way to winning the 21km men First Lady Half Marathon race at the Nyayo National Stadium on March 06, 2016. Kimitei won the race with a time of 1:00.38. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

Unheralded Wilfred Kimitei and seasoned Valentine Kipketer fashioned close victories in the 21km race of the 2016 First Lady Half Marathon that panned out in the streets of Nairobi before ending inside Nyayo Stadium on Sunday morning.

The pair ran 60:38 and 69:05 to become the third set of winners in as many editions of the event to pocket Ksh750,000 each after edging out Hillary Kipchumba (60:40) and Joyceline Jepkosgei (69:09) in the final sprint for the honours in the red tartan of Nyayo.

James Mwangi (29:24) and Jackline Chepng’eno (33:27) won the men and women 10Km races to bag Ksh250,000 each.

The men’s race got off to a cracking pace and concluded in nail-biting fashion with Vincent Kipchumba and Edwin Cheruiyot surging to the lead after four kilometres.

Simon Kirui joined the front runners 6km into the race as the trio ran alongside each other, with none willing to take the strong initiative so early in the race as the mercury started rising when the morning Nairobi sun took over from the overcast cloudy conditions that greeted the starters outside Nyayo Stadium.

Tired of the shadow boxing around him, Kimitei sprung into action, accelerating to the lead at the halfway point beyond the tiring early pacesetters; Kipchumba who eventually finished sixth (61:16) and Cheruiyot who took the next position a second adrift.

Philemon Rono (60:42), the 2013 national cross champion who closed the podium at the end and Richard Mengich who placed fourth (60:05) joined Kimitei at the front in the 13km mark and for the next two, the lead changed hands between the trio who were determined to produce the 2016 champion.

Fifth finisher, Simon Kirui (61:02) and the eventual runner-up and the other Kipchumba, Hillary, hauled themselves from the chasing pack to join the leaders in the next kilometre but the mini-surge cost the former who was cut off from the hard running front runners four kilometres to the finish.

Kimitei, Kipchumba and Rono ran stride by stride for the final two kilometres, with the title now set for a tense final sprint at the red tartan of Nyayo.

Surprisingly, this battle was won by the least established of the trio, Kimitei, who celebrated his biggest career victory thus far with aplomb.

“This is a big boost for me and I plan to enter other road races to test myself against the best,” Kimitei who trains in Eldoret said after the win over Kipchumba who has a string of credits in half marathon and 10K as well as Rono who was fifth at last year’s Valencia Marathon.

“We started in cloudy cold conditions but it got warmer so I was able to adapt to the conditions,” the victor added. Kipchumba and Rono took home Ksh500,000 and Ksh200,000 for sharing the podium with Kimitei.

-Kipketer class prevails-

Valentine Kipketer , the winner of 21km women First Lady Half Marathon celebrates her victory at the Nyayo national stadium on March 06, 2016. Kipketer finished her race in the first position with a time of 1:09:05. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com
Valentine Kipketer , the winner of 21km women First Lady Half Marathon celebrates her victory at the Nyayo National Stadium on March 06, 2016. Kipketer finished her race in the first position with a time of 1:09:05. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

An equally enthralling conclusion was witnessed in the corresponding women’s race but this time; the winner had the fitting class to prevail over her competition at the event where more than 40,000 participants took part.

Valentine Jekorir Kipchumba, 23, to give her full name came to the start with the strong credentials of winning the 2013 Amsterdam and Mumbai marathons as well as finishing third at the latter on January 17 reigned supreme in another tartan sprint for victory.

The 2:23:02 career best marathoner who failed to finish the women’s marathon 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow after being handed her Team Kenya debut narrowly edged out Jepkosgei, the fifth finisher at the same distance at last year’s Stanchart Nairobi Marathon by four seconds at the tape.

Further adrift, Gladys Yator ran 70:36 for bronze well clear of Naomi Maiyo finished fourth in 71:11.

In the men’s 10km race, Mwangi defended his title ahead of Bernard Kipkemoi (29:34) as Alexander Mutiso (29:42) closed the rostrum with Albert Kagongo (29:52) placed just outside.

Chepng’eno clinched the women’s event at the distance over Miriam Wangari (34:38) and Anne Wanjiru (34:43) who took silver and bronze.

-First Lady in 10K run-

Kenya's First Lady Margaret Kenyatta (C) with her Rwandese counterpart, Jeannette Kagame (L)and Rachel Ruto greet crowds after finishing the 10km First Lady Half Marathon race at the Nyayo national stadium on March 06, 2016. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com
Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta (C) with her Rwandese counterpart, Jeannette Kagame (L) and Rachel Ruto greet crowds after finishing the 10km First Lady Half Marathon race at the Nyayo national stadium on March 06, 2016. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta ran the 10km unlike previous two editions when she went to the full half marathon and finished alongside Rwanda’s First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, Deputy President William Ruto’s wife Rachel and the two-time Olympics and record four-time men 3000m steeplechase champion.

Organisers target to raise Kshs105m from this year’s registration alone for the Beyond Zero initiative launched by Ms Kenyatta in 2014 to eradicate mortality during childbirth across the country.

“Thank you all so much for being here! My special appreciation goes to my sister Her Excellency Mrs Jeanette Kagame, the First Lady of Rwanda for taking the time and finding the energy to run with us today; we are truly honored by her presence.

“To all runners; whether you did 2km, 5km, 10km, or 21km, whether you took 30 minutes or 3 hours, you have done an absolutely fantastic job!  I want to especially thank those of you who have come out to run every year for the last three years.  That is an amazing feat.

“To the parents who brought out their children today, I’m so grateful for your support! As a mother, I can tell you that our children are not too young to learn how to give and how to share, how to serve and how to care. To all the young people who ran today, well done! We are so proud of you. You are an encouragement to us all,” Ms Kenyatta said in her address after the dust settled down on the event.

Report by Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com 

LEADING RESULTS

Men 21km

  1. Wilfred Kimitei 60:38
  2. Hillary Kipchumba 60:40
  3. Philemon Rono 60:42
  4. Richard Mengich 60:45
  5. Simon Kirui 61:02
  6. Vincent Kipchumba 61:16
  7. Edwin Cheruiyot 61:17
  8. Stephen Chemai 61:25
  9. Francis Kiplagat 61:28
  10. Alpha Maringa 61:29

Women 21km

  1. Valentine Kipketer 69:05
  2. Joyceline Jepkosgei 69:09
  3. Gladys Yator 70:36
  4. Naomi Maiyo 71:00
  5. Rhoda Jepkorir 71:09
  6. Zeddy Jerop 71:11
  7. Grace Momanyi 71:12
  8. Lilian Chelagat 71:48
  9. Eunice Kioko 71:53
  10. Pauline Eskon 72:29

Men 10km

  1. James Mwangi 29:24
  2. Bernard Kipkemboi 29:34
  3. Alexander Mutiso 29:42
  4. Albert Kagongo 29:52
  5. Bernard Matheka 30:05

Women 10km

  1. Jackline Chepng’eno 33:28
  2. Miriam Wangari 34:37
  3. Anne Wanjiru 32:43
  4. (Not given)* 35:01
  5. Geresiah Omosa 35:07

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