Debutants Brimin Kipkorir and Celestine Chepchirchir braced the chilly weather and the grueling pace and distance to emerge champions of the 15th edition of Nairobi Standard Chartered Marathon.
The two were part of more than 200 elite athletes and close to 20,000 other runners who took the streets of Nairobi in a display of tremendous grit and endurance in support of the “Seeing is Believing” initiative aimed at eradicating avoidable blindness and visual impairment in children under 15 years.
Twenty-nine-year-old Kipkorir beat a strong field in the main 42km race to cut the tape in 2:12:39 while Chepchirchir, in her first full marathon, posted a time of 2:31:41.
“The race was tough. I fell a few metres after the start and injured my left arm but I picked myself up and resolved to continue and achieve my target. I did not have a set time in mind but I wanted to win so that I can attract managers,” said Kipkorir, who has his eyes set on conquering bigger city marathons with New York and Tokyo top on his list.
Twenty-two-year-old Chepchirchir, who two months ago was crowned the 10km winner at Safaricom’s Mombasa International Marathon, came into the race expecting victory.
“I had prepared for the competition and came for nothing short of the title as I knew such an achievement would open more chances for me outside the country. My coach had also assured me of finding a manager if I won. I want more races now,” said Chepchirchir.
In the men’s race, 2015 runners-up Shadrack Kimaiyo had to settle for second place this year as well after posting a time of 2:12:52 although he managed to upstage Joshua Kipkorir, who beat him two years ago. Kipkorir completed the podium places in a time of 2:13:27 while second and third place in the women’s 42km race went to Kellen Waithira and Peres Kiprono in that order.
Kamaiyo was, however, still elated having missed the 2016 edition due to injury. The same could not be said of third-placed Kipkorir (Joshua) who was disappointed after failing to be the first athlete to defend his title at the annual event.
“I knew I could win, I had it in me but I fell sick and started vomitting. I held it together to the end. I now shift my focus to Mumbai Marathon slated for January 21 where I finished second last year,” he said.
Meanwhile, Valary Aiyabei and Felix Kibitok won the women’s and men’s 21km race in a time of 1:11:04 and 1:03:26 respectively. Ezekiel Mutai and Patrick Sielei finished second and third in the men’s 21km race while Margret Wangare and Alice Rutto completed the podium in the women’s equivalent.