THE 2011 San Diego and Sao Paulo half marathon winners Weldon Kirui and Agnes Jepkosgei emerged the new men's and women's winners of the sixth Kass Marathon in Eldoret yesterday.
The duo braved the chilly morning conditions to snaked through the tea plantations of Kapsabet before being crowned winners at the Eldoret town hall.
Kirui, who pulled out of the race at the 30km mark last year, defied all odds to brilliantly win this year's edition in a time of 2:17.44. Peter Kosgei finished second in 2:18.47 followed by Samwel Rotich in 2:18.51.
Hillary Kipsang (2:19.21), Benjamin Koech (2:19.31) and Evans Biwott (2:19.51) closed the top six positions. Hundreds of fans who lined up the course to see tnew champions being discovered saw Kirui break away at the 35km and upped his pace all the way to the tape.
For the better part of the race Kirui stuck with the leading pack of eight. Then he pulled out from the crowd as his rivals fought for oxygen.
"The weather was good though the wind was a little bit heavy but I managed to conquer it. I have been training hard for this race and really God has rewarded me,"said Kirui, a 23-year-old from Kericho.
He added the win was a blessing since he is now eyeing a place on the Kenyan team to next year's world championships in Moscow. Meanwhile, 25 year-old Agnes Jepkosgei from Marakwet triumphed in the women's 42km on her debut. She clocked 2:41.30 while Purity Kimetto came second in 2.46.40.
Sally Kimaiyo settled for third in 2:46.49 followed by Frida Jepkemoi(2:47.40), Jarie Suto (2:48.4) and Irene Chepkirui (2:49.2) in that order.
Agnes, the fifth born in her family said she was about to give up at the 38km mark but was encouraged to continue by the spectators. "It was not an easy battle because I was about to pull out but when I saw people cheering me, I decided not to let them down. This was my first participation in a full marathon." Agnes said.
She said her intention is to go to Brazil in the next Olympic Games since the race has opened her doors to glory. All Africa 1,500m silver medalist Joyce Chepkirui shone in the women's 12km race winning in 40:07.2 minutes while Cosmas Lagat won the men's category in 35:21.3.