Misoi, Chepchirchir toast StanChart Marathon titles
Nairobi was painted in a sea of white, blue and green as amateur athletes and elite runners descended the capital for the Standard Chartered Marathon.
The drizzly weather that set in at dawn did little to dampen the race spirits as over 20,000 athletes showed up to grace the 14th edition of the annual competition.
Roads leading to the CBD stayed closed with heavy security detail stationed at strategic parts of the course content complete with a hovering police chopper.
The first gun went off at 6:30am to signal the start of the first race category at the Nairobi Railways Club amid rainfall that only subsided an hour later to the relief of amateur athletes and competition organisers.
The categories included the CEO’s challenge, wheel chair category, 10KM which witnessed the most entrants, the 21KM and family fun category which included children.
Some came to run for fun, to keep fit and to add to the basket of the charity work, whatever it cost them to make it notwithstanding.
A section of them could not run, but walked through their respective distances to make their mark, as individuals or families.
Others were up to winning and make to the prize money brackets, and to redifine their careers.
Such was Celestine Chepchirchir, the women 42KM winner who could not hold her tears for the what she termed as unexpected win.
“I was not even to participate in this race, until I was advised to register a few months ago.
“I didn’t know I would be the best. I don’t have a manager but now I believe from here I will certainly have one. I thank God, all glory to Him,” an emotional Chepchirchir said.
It was even more fulfilling for the new champion, as she went to the podium to receive her KSh1.5 million cheque and medal from the Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe.
Hyped by the day’s master of ceremony at the awarding ceremony as the old school Kalenjin tune Emily Chepchumba rocked the air at the Railways Club, Chepchirchir’s big smile could not emphasize more the feeling of a champion.
“I will go far, yes I can. Every mark of success is an encouragement to me that with God and hard work tomorrow can be better than today.
“I will plan what next after here, nothing conclusive for now but 2018 should be greater for me,” she said.
Old but vibrant
At the men’s 21KM finish line, a 66-year old Macharia from Nakuru County stood out among the competitors, comfortably finishing ahead of tens of pretty young men, enough to be sons and grand children.
“I love this feeling. Finishing this distance is wondeful, being old but vibrant. It is all about keeping healthy, that is why I came.
“I have made it, so the young men and women at home can do it too,” offered the old man who started serious training in 201, paused in 2013 and has been running in the First Lady’s marathon editions.
The main race (42KM) had interesting trio, who led from the start, whittling themselves from the initial parks of 25, 15, six, three and finally one- Brimin Kipkorir Masai.
Shadrak Kiptoo, 2015 runners up and Joshua Kipkorir who won the edition, pushed each other to the end, with Masai overcoming Kipkorir who led for over 35 kilometers with only three kilometers to go.
Interestingly, the Kiptoo and Kipkorir are confessed friends with their camaraderie since meeting first in the 2015 edition.
As a relaxed Kiptoo would reveal at the finishing line, they had plotted a 1-2 finish with Kipkorir all through but uknown Masai intruded into their plan.
“I was not in the best shape but we my coach said I should run. I therefore feel comfortable and congratulate the winner,” he told.
For Kipkorir, who up to 34KM appeared to be the man of the day, complained of stomachache saying ‘it stole what was his’.
“I had a bad stomach, I have really puked after race. I however congratulate the winner, he deserved it,” he averred.
Flair and natural endowments
A new phenomenon in the race was uniformed groups of cheering squads, all ladies, whose flair and natural endowments gave the event a unique taste.
Waving in the air bunches of blue, green and white flowers, colours of their attires, the ladies danced all through at the joints where they stood till the end of the races.
Among the crowds cheering on the competitors were a number of elite athletes and world beaters who did not take part.
Daniel Wanjiru, the 2017 London Marathon champion was among them, underscoring the significance of the event.
“This is a big one happening at home, we are here to see and encourage some of the athletes following after our steps.
“Many have discovered themselves in such races, and you never know when and where another star is born,” he pointed out.
At the tail end, a call for more entrants in the future editions was the main message from the Standard Chartered CEO who also participated in big bosses category.
“It is always great to have CEO’s joining us every year, for this so noble cause. I invite those CEO’s watching from home on Citizen TV, they can also join in saying seeing is believing,” he said.
As soon as Kenya’s national anthem was sang marking the end of the official event, artists including reknown music celebrities and dancers took over the stage ushering in the second phase of the successful event.
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