Stunning cruises to victory dominated the second edition of Iten international marathon as athletes overcame foggy and frosty conditions.
New champions were crowned as athletics stars displayed rare resilience in the 42km and 10km contests.
Debutants and experienced marathoners faced off, electrifying Iten – a tiny town that has produced world beaters in the sport, but stands out as the world's athletics training site after St Moritz in Switzerland.
It was a spectacular sight to behold as a bag of mixed talents crisscrossed the homes of world beating athletics stars -right from Chepsamo village, the home of world marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum, to two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat's home in Kapkoi village -along the energy-sapping course.
Luke Kiprop and Naomi Chepkorir powered to victories in men’s and women’s marathon respectively.
Kiprop, who was running his full marathon debut, shocked experienced athletes in 42km.
The marathon winners braved the chilly conditions characterised by foggy conditions and low temperatures, to win the race’s Sh1 million prize each.
Kiprop cut the tape in 2:13:19, five minutes slower than the course record set by Samuel Naibei in the inaugural edition last year.
“It is my first marathon. Previously, I was running 10km but I decided to upgrade to full marathon,” Kiprop said after his victory.
He was joined on the podium by second and third place finishers Charles Kimeli and Edwin Yator, who clocked 2:14:19 and 2:14:46 respectively.
Chepkorir, the new star in the Iten 42km contest ran 2:32:36 ahead of Lina Kaino (2:34:27) to settle on the second spot while Caroline Kimosop, who finished third, clocked 2:36:36.
“The course was good but it was very cold. I have done my best because I was training in the rain. This is my first major win. I came from maternity leave, then Covid-19 pandemic struck but I am now back. Running is my passion and I am now targeting more wins,” Chepkorir said.
The 10km showdown, which was featured for the first time in the extravaganza, lived up to its billing.
Rising road and track star Reuben Longosiwa topped the men’s 10km race while MonacoRun 5km champion Miriam Chebet took the women’s crown.
Longosiwa crossed the finish line in 28:32 followed by Nelson Langat and Johana Erot who timed 28:44 and 28:46 respectively in the 10km clash.
The 5km fun run attracted big names, including Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba and his Roads, Transport, and Public Works counterpart, Kipchumba Murkomen.
Benjamin Kiptalam, a 71-year-old fun runner, stood out.
“It was one of the most exciting races. Nothing was very challenging here (in Iten). The course was scenic and I ran at a time when the weather conditions had improved. I feel rejuvenated. I will participate in future fun races,” the elderly fun race runner said.
Meanwhile, top government officials condemned the rising cases in doping and asked the Ministry of Sports to complete stalled training facilities.
Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wisley Rotich, who is the patron of the marathon, said county officials, in collaboration with the police, have kicked out a cartel suspected to be involved in doping.
“We are now seeking the support of the National Intelligence Service and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to drive away a cartel working with (pharmaceutical) chemists to introduce athletes to doping,” the governor said.
1500m world record holder Faith Kipyegon and women-only marathon record holder Mary Keitany were among global stars who followed the race at the finishing area.
Three-time Boston Marathon winner and certified route measurer Ibrahim Hussein, former Boston Marathon winner and former Cherangany MP Wesley Korir, two-time world marathon champion Abel Kirui and 3000m world record holder Daniel Komen were among a rich list of Kenyan legends who graced the event.