Rabbit Wangari highlights Kenyan dominance in Europe


James Mwangi Wangari crosses the line to win the men's race of the second Copenhagen ...
James Mwangi Wangari crosses the line to win the men's race of the second Copenhagen Half Marathon on Sunday. PHOTO/Organisers/Copyright

Kenyans showed their dominance in European road races highlighted by the performance of pacemaker James Mwangi Wangari who stunned the men’s elite field at the Copenhagen Half Marathon in Denmark to blast to a course record of 59:07 on Sunday.

Elsewhere, African champion and Olympics fourth finisher over 10000m, Alice Aprot and Edwin Kiptoo held on to their Dam to Damloop 10 mile women and men titles in Netherlands as Barselius Kipyego and Peres Jepchirchir sealed the Kenyan double at the Mattoni Usti and Labem Half Marathon in the Czech Republic.

In Denmark, Wangari who was designated as a rabbit, found the legs to carry him all the way to the tape in smashing the old standard set by World Half and World Cross silver medallist, Bedan Karoki who faded to fifth here (59:32) by seven seconds.

Kenyans occupied nine out of the top 10 finishing places with Stephen Kosgei Kibet (59:28) and Albert Kangogo (59:29) rounding the podium as Abraham Kiptum (59:36), Edwin Kipsang Rotich (59:54), Geoffrey Yegon (60:26) and Kenya Defence Forces runner; Alex Oloitiptip Korio (60:33) followed Karoki home to settle for the sixth, seventh, ninth and tenth positions in that order.

“I am in a very good shape. The speed was excellent in the first half. But the wind was very strong. I really feel I am in shape to beat the world record,” Wangari who won the Stramilano Half (59:12) in Italy in March told the IAAF after improving his lifetime best.

Former World junior champion, Veronica Nyaruai (68:06) was third in the women’s race behind Ethiopian winner, Hiwot Gebrekidan Gebremaryam (68:00) and Kenyan born Bahraini Eunice Chumba (68:04) in a close battle for the tape that involved Gladys Chesir (68:20) who was cut adrift in the closing stages to finish fourth.

In the Netherlands, Aprot, fresh from finishing fourth in Rio last month where she laid the platform for Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana to break the world record with a blistering first half of the race brought the competition home in 51:59 for victory having taken charge of proceedings from the early stages.

Compatriot Lucy Karimi (53:03) the winner of the 2016 Prague Marathon rounded the podium behind Tejitu Daba of Bahrain who followed Aprot home in 52:34.

The corresponding men’s race saw Kiptoo retain his crown in the fastest time of the year when he hammered the clock to 45:25 ahead of Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei (45:38) and Eritrea’s Abrar Osman (46:12) who took the minor medals.

Over to the Czech Republic Kipyego and Jepchirchir executed their favourite roles to perfection, returning 59:15 and 67:24 to win the men and women races of the IAAF Gold Label race.

Kipyego uncorked the fourth fastest performance of the year to add the gloss to his victory.

-Story compiled from iaaf.org

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Story By Charity Wanja
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