By Joseph Ngure
Joyce Chepkurui put her Olympic frustrations behind her to easily win this year’s Family Bank half marathon in Eldoret as new entrants jostled for honours with pre-race favourites.
Chepkurui, unbeatable in local races, outclassed more than 100 women participants from the gun to tape and overcoming windy conditions on the 3km loop confined within the town streets.
“This is my first local competition and I was using it to test myself after been out with injury. I am happy I have healed and will continue with my training for the cross-country season,” said Chepkurui who failed to finish the women’s 10,000m during the Olympics in London.
The champion, runners-up in Olympics national trials (32:24.71) behind Vivian Cheruiyot, clocked one hour 11 minutes and 18 seconds after building and maintaining a 300m gap and announced she would be going for the World Cross-country title in Bydycocz next year.
“I want the world cross-country title next year. That is why I am not resting after recovering. I will run again in Ndalat cross-country next week God willing,” added the star, also the reigning African Senior women cross-country champion.
Veteran Philomena Cheyech came in second in 1 hr 11 minutes and 56 seconds after overtaking hard fighting Mercy Kibarus 200m to finish line. Kibarus timed 1 hr 12 minutes and 7 seconds.
Milka Cherotich, marathoner Hellah Kiprop and Salome Biwott trailed in 1:12.18, 1:12.50 and 1:13.14 during the race flagged off by National Olympic Committee of Kenya Chairman Kipchoge Keino.
There was a major upset in the men’s race where seasoned runners and a former champion were showed clean pair of heels by upstarts.
Veteran Moses ‘Man Power’ Kigen, the winner of the third edition in 2009, was reduced to a shadow of himself when he finished fifth overall in the event that attracted 725 competitors.
Padova marathon champion Robert Kwambai, 27, burned the last calorie to take home Sh150,000 and Heifer after tussling with third-placed Emmanuel Kipsang in a tough encounter.
Kwambai, who trains at Rossa’s marathon camp in Kaptagat, triumphed in 1 hrs 3 minutes and 8 seconds under scorching sun and joined the growing list of local heroes.
“This is my major victory in local competitions. I feel good winning at home and I am now waiting for my manager to choose a race for me,” said the winner.
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Joyce Chepkurui Family Bank race Padova marathon Robert Kwambai