BOSTON Half marathon champion Caroline Kilel shook off stiff challenge to win the women's race in the inaugural Safaricom Kisii 21-km race. Kilel clocked 1:11.31 to defeat her closest rival Jane Moraa of Nyanturago, who crossed the tape in 1:12.57.
Little-known Joyce Kandie of Kericho and Divinah Chepkogei, finished third and fourth respectively after returning personal bests of 1:13.18 and 1:13.41 respectively.
In an interview, Kilel said the race was good even though there was too much of climbing. Kilel said she is planning to venture into full marathon and the Kisii race was part of her build-up for the mission.
" I am using some of these races to gauge myself before venturing into full marathon. I never anticipated winning the race because the competition was stiff. I am very happy because this is an indication that I can do even better in full marathon," she added.
Leonard Lagat clocked a personal best of 1:00.51 to win the men's category. Bernard Kituri of Chebirbelek was second in 1:00.52 while Nicholas Kemboi clocked 1:00.54 to finish third. David Langat of Chebirbelek and David Langat posted 1:00.55 and 1:01.53 respectively to complete the top five positions.
In an interview, Lagat said despite the rough terrain and scorching sun, he was happy to have floored a strong field of over 90 other competitors. He said he intends to run in New Delhi Half marathon on September 30, and the Kisii event was a good build-up for him. Lagat featured in the Berlin Half Marathon in April and took position six. The oldest men in the race-Stephen Oyaro (71) and David Nyamache (69) placed 88 and 80 respectively.
The two said their participation is a morale booster for the youthful athletes. "We are old but we are trying to show the youth that they must exploit their talents. They must not sleep to wait for manna from heaven," Oyaro said.
Veteran athletes Ezekiah Nyamao, Charles Asati and Nyantika Maiyoro graced the occasion and encouraged the youthful athletes to remain focused. Winners pocked Sh30,000 while second-placed went home with Sh20,000. Second runner-up and fourth received Sh15,000 and Sh10,000 respectively.