Nairobi — In the tenth anniversary themed 'Run for a Reason' Wesley Kibet and Salome Jerono found the strides to scoop Sh1.5m apiece after winning the men and women races of the annual Stanchart Nairobi International Marathon on Sunday.
Racing in overcast conditions after the capital city woke up from heavy rains on Saturday night, Kibet won the men's race in a new route best of 2:10:40 to earn an additional Sh250,000 bonus as Jerono ran unchallenged over the last 10km to scoop the women's race in 2:26:41.
"It was not easy but I had prepared well and I thank God for doing the rest for me. I'm delighted since I did not expect to win, leave alone setting the course record that has surprised me," the elated 32-year-old who erased the 2:10:54 previous course record ran by Ernest Kebenei last year stated.
"I hope this win opens more doors for me since I have struggled to make it since I started running in 2004. I was in Germany in 2009 for some races but they did not turn out well and my manager at the time left me," he added.
Having competed in the previous two editions without any success, Kibet caught the bouquet when he deployed the decisive breakaway from 2009 champion, Moses Kigen two kilometres from the finish.
The pair alongside Abraham Keter, the 2007 Kass International Marathon winner and Ronald Kurgat had pushed away from the competition from the 30K split before Kibet who ran 2:26 and 2:19 in his previous Stanchart runs made his move.
Kigen, who was eighth at the Boston Marathon last year, faded off as Keter caught up and swallowed the former titleholder as they came home in 2:10:50 against 2:11:05 as Kurgat (2:11:08) and Joseph Biwott (2:11:14) rounded off the top-five.
In the women's race, there was no doubt that the eventual winner would be Jerono, who ran 2:35:23 at the Kassel Marathon in May after she took off from the assembled competition at the 32km before completing the course in 2:26:41.
"I noticed the pace was down and I decided to push it up and in the end, I ran at the pace I felt comfortable with and although I was not expecting to win when I came here, I'm so happy and I hope this is the start of many," the winner told.
In a staggered finish, Alice Chelagat (2:28:04) then Mercy Chemutai (2:31:30) trooped home in second and third well behind the winner as Grace Kitonga (2:34:31) just missed out on a podium finish in a sprint for the tape.
World Half bronze winner, Pascalia Jepkorir, ruled the roost in the women's half marathon coming home in 1:08:12 to record a massive four-minutes victory over closest challenger, Beatrice Cherop (1:12:43) as Gladys Jepkechei (1:13:13) closed the podium.
The corresponding men's race was won by Mathew Kiprotich in 1:02:19 as Joseph Aperumoi (1:02:54) and Peter Chesang (1:03:03) finished in second and third.
Organisers achieved their stated target of 20,000 participants as Nairobi residents turned out in their droves to run, jog and walk along the designated route in a cacophony of colour that marked the race as one of the biggest attractions in the country.
Security was beefed up as regular, administration, paramilitary, National Youth Service and private security providers manned the route and the Nyayo Stadium finish with the help of canines and horses.
1. Wesley Kibet 2:10:40
2. Abraham Keter 2:10:50
3. Moses Kigen 2:11:05
4. Ronald Kurgat 2:11:08
5. Joseph Biwott 2:11:14
6. Elisha Barno 2:11:19
7. Duncan Maiyo 2:11:47
8. Jackson Lokochol 2:11:53
9. Felix Kiproptich 2:12:03
10. Henry Tarus 2:13:17
1. Salome Jerono 2:26:41
2. Alice Chelagat 2:28:04
3. Mercy Chemutai 2:31:30
4. Grace Kitonga 2:34:31
5. Caroline Komen 2:35:51
6. Joan Kigen 2:35:54
7. Salome Jepchumba 2:36:57
8. Susan Nyakariega 2:38:30
9. Eunice Chebichii 2:38:58
10. Jackline Kemunto 2:39:34
1. Mathew Kiprotich 1:02:19
2. Joseph Aperumoi 1:02:54
3. Peter Chesang 1:03:03
1. Pascalia Jepkorir 1:08:12
2. Beatrice Cherop 1:12:43
3. Gladys Jepkechei 1:13:13