World Half champ Jepchirchir romps to Eldoret victory
World Half champion, Peris Jepchirchir and upstart Jorum Lumbasi Okombo won the 21km women and men’s races at the 10th Family Bank Half Marathon that brought out the numbers in Eldoret on Sunday.
Unfolding under sunny conditions, the event attracted elite and the upcoming athletes jostling against each other along the streets of the self-styled City of Champions causing confusion where ultimately three runners were disqualified for cheating.
Having won her first global title at the IAAF World Half in Cardiff in March, the spotlight was on Jepchirchir who delivered a 1:12:27 victory in punishing elevation after out-kicking Austin Half silver winner, Lucy Cheruiyot who posted 1:12:55 in the dash for the finish.
Jepchirchir is now eyeing Valencia Half Marathon honours in three weeks after prevailing over a field that had seasoned competitors such as African 10000m silver medallist, Joyceline Jepkosgei and rising temperatures laid out on a different course from last year.
“I’m an all-weather runner that is why I was able to win the race with ease with steep competition from experienced athletes,” the winner underscored.
Upcoming runner Okombo stunned many when he won the corresponding men’s race and flooring athletes of international repute in the process.
The winner shadowed former double African distance champion and captain of Kenya at the 2011 Punta Umbria World Cross, Matthew Kisorio who led through most of the race before beating him to the punch in the closing stages to complete the upset.
“I was not here to win but try my best. I followed Kisorio closely since I knew he was the only threat. When he was exhausted, I overtook him and he was my pace setter,” said Omboko who hails from Kuresoi after stopping the clock at 1:03:16 for victory, a lifetime best over the distance.
Robert Kemboi led the challengers’ home in 1:03:28 ahead of Festus Cheboi who rounded the podium in 1:03:41 as Kisorio ran out of steam to fall back the finishing order in ninth.
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