For Isaac Kipkoech it was a case of so near yet too far at the 11th edition of the Family Bank half marathon in Eldoret yesterday.
The road race was made all the more painful by the fact that he was powerless to stop Sh60,000 slipping away from his reach a few metres to the finish line.
Kipkoech had been leading for a while and it appeared certain under the hot sun that he would take home Sh250,000 but Joram Lumbasi had other plans; to scuttle his victory.
As they approached the finish line, Lumbasi sped off, catching Kipkoech off-guard and unable to respond. In the end, it was Lumbasi offering winner’s sound bites and not Kipkoech.
“The race was not so bad compared to last year. I did not expect to win this time because I was still tired from a race I did last month in Copenhagen,” said Lumbasi.
“When I got to the 16km mark, I scanned the area and saw that there were only three of us leading. I decided that I was going to do my best and face off with them. I had reserve energy for the last lap and that is what helped me out,” he said.
Lumbasi, who is the defending champion, clocked 1:03.47, his contender Kipkoech crossed the line a second later. Daniel Kipkosgei came in third 8 seconds later.
Micah Cheserut, Edwin Yator, Timothy Rono and Maxwel Rotich came forth, fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.
The women’s race, which started a few minutes before the men’s, was predictable as KDF’s Pauline Korikwiang led the pack for most of the course.
The 29-year-old who had been out for four years was coming in to test her fitness.
“I am happy. I am feeling better after what I went through. I will try to run in the marathon next year away from the usual cross country and shorter races,” she said.
The woman, who draws her inspiration from former marathon champion Catherine Ndereba and Tecla Loroupe, said the race had confirmed to her that she could run long distances.
She clocked 1:13.08 followed by Josphine Chepkoech, who came in a minute later. Winny Jepkorir and Peninah Kandie were third and fourth respectively.
Family Bank MD David Thuku said the bank would continue supporting athletes in the city of champions.
“We will continue nurturing and exposing the talents to the world. The athletes from the road races we have had have been shining in other international races. Lumbasi who won last year is an example,” said Dr Thuku.
Lumbasi, who started his career as a pace setter for different athletes during their training at Kamariny Stadium, clocked 1:03.16 in last year’s Family Bank Half Marathon. [Joan Letting]