21 March 2010

Kenya: Asian Glory for Kenyan Runners

Nairobi — It was a rich harvest for Kenyan runners across Asia at the weekend as Sylvester Teimet took a surprise and fast victory at the Seoul International Marathon, clocking a course record two hours, six minutes and 49 seconds.

In Taipei, Henry Cherono crossed the finish line in 2.24:07 to win the Taipei Express Marathon on Sunday ahead of Taiwan's Chiang Chieh-wen who clocked 2:27:37. Cherono's compatriot Evelyne Kimuria won the women's title in 2:53:06.

The race, run under difficult conditions that saw runners brave up a severe sandstorm, was a good outing for the Kenyans. Cherono's time was slower than his personal best of 2:12:11 and the Taipei Express's record of 2:16:41 set in 2005 by his compatriot David Kariuki.

Strong winds

Cherono said his run was hampered by strong winds that covered northern Taiwan in clouds of yellow dust, according to a statement released by the Chinese Taipei Road Running Association. In Seoul, Teimet's race was a fast one at the top end, with the runner-up Gilbert Kiwa also dipping under the 2:07 mark with his impressive 2:06.59 run.

Amane Gobena of Ethiopia won the women's race in 2:24:13, well ahead of China's Zhou Chunxiu who clocked 2:25:01. The 26-year-old Teimet, who finished third in this race last year, dropped Kirwa over the final couple of kilometres to clinch the victory, lowering his personal best by an unthinkable three minutes and four seconds to 2:06:49.

Kirwa ran a season's best 2:06:59 losing by 10 seconds in the end to join Teimet as the first sub-2:07 runners in Korea. The 30-year-old Kirui was third in 2:07:35, his fastest time in three years, and David Kiyeng completed a Kenyan 1-2-3-4 with a 2:09:00 season's best.

Asmeron lost a lot of ground in the second half of the race finishing in fifth place in 2:11:46. The best Korean was Park Young-Min, who clocked 2:12:43 for sixth. Kim Min in seventh and Yu Young-Jin eighth both set personal bests 2:13:11 and 2:13:13 respectively.

Well back

The 32-year-old William Kipsang, a winner here five years ago, ran his first marathon since 2008 but didn't do well finishing well back in 33rd with a time of 2:24:11. The women's contest was run with a very even pace which didn't promise anything like the sub-2:20 Zhou Chunxiu had clocked before.

Still the race started with pace and by 25km only the two main favourites - Chinese Zhou Chunxiu and Ethiopian Amane Gobena - who had already won the Osaka Marathon in January, were left. Kenyan Caroline Kilel was already 14 seconds behind the leading pair and lost more than a minute from 25 to 30km.

Gobena and Zhou were still together at 30km, but then the 27-year-old Ethiopian made here move gaining a massive 45 seconds before the 35th kilometre to bag her second major marathon win this year. Gobena lowered her personal best to 2:24:13 with Zhou, not losing more in the last seven kilometres, in second with a 2:25:01 clocking, her fastest time since 2007.

Kilel held on for third in 2:26:58 and Wang Xueqin set a personal best 2:28:17 for fourth. The young Kim Sung-Eun clocked 2:29:27, also a PB, for fifth. Kenyan Martha Komu was sixth in 2:30:36.

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