Determination and redemption were quite visible at the 19th Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon on Sunday.
Huge ambitions, upsets and redemption provided some exciting talking points as a handful of top stars battled upstarts in the chase for Sh2 million top prize.
But the stars enthralled Government and corporate officials that included Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba and Chief of Defence Forces Robert Kibochi. It attracted participants from more than 30 countries –all for a noble course: better care for the environment.
It was fun for fans as thousands of spectators turned up to enjoy the riveting action at Kenya’s biggest single-day sports event in what Ababu described as “a global event in character and competition.”
Elisha Chelimo and Sheila Chepkoech produced brilliant shows to win the men’s and women’s 42km races in a cold morning showdown that ended at Uhuru Gardens, along Lang’ata Road.
Chelimo, who trains in Iten, pulled a fast one on the classy line up that attracted more than 1000 athletes to win 42km in 2:10.22 ahead of Wilfred Kirwa (2:10.51) and Felix Kipkorir (2:11.10).
Robert Kwambai (2:11.22), Moses Mengich (2:11.32), former Amsterdam Marathon winner Gedion Kipketer (2:12.06) and Hammington Cherop (2:12.21) followed.
Chelmo, who finished eighth during last year’s edition, was the day’s show stopper as he dominated the race eight-kilometre mark to victory.
Chelimo, who made his fourth stab at the race, said: “I am happy for the victory. I had been invited to the Frankfurt Marathon (held today in the German economic capital) but could not make it due to visa delay. I hope to be back to the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon next year.”
Kirwa, the runner up finisher, said: “My training has paid up. This is my second time competing at the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon.”
Chepkoech won in 2:27.04 upstaging You Nakagawa (2:28.42) and former three-time Boston Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo (2:29.36).
Chepkoech said: “I had a pacemaker. After finishing eighth in last year’s race, I decided to work on a different strategy and it worked out. I really trained hard. I am yet to decide on my next race.”
But Jeptoo, winner of the Boston Marathon three times, said it was a good race. “I have been out for a long time and I never expected such a good performance. I have just trained for three months. It boosts my morale. It confirms that I never lost form.”
In the 21km women’s field, Evaline Chirchi emerged top followed by Nelly Jeptoo and Edith Jepchumba as Daniel Ebenyo won in the men’s category.