Cheruyot, Mutwa crowned Lukenya marathon champions

Pauline Mutwa celebrates after winning women's 42km race during the Lukenya University 10m trees marathon. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Wilson Cheruyot and Pauline Mutwa Sammy triumphed in the second edition of Lukenya University 10 Million Trees Marathon in Mtito Andei, Makueni County on Sunday.

Cheruyot clocked 2:14:27 to lift the men’s title as Mutwa timed 2:37:38 to nestle the women’s crown.

Cheruyot, who hails from Kapsabet, attributed his victory to impressive game plan which saw him stretch his adversaries before breaking loose at the 30km mark.

“I knew because of the scorching sun, they were not be able to catch up with me, so I just cruised till the tape confidently,” Cheruyot told Standard Sports.

“I’m returning back to serious training at my base in Kapsabet. I’m also out to look for an agent who can connect me with international races abroad,” he said.

“My other immediate plan will be to use the Sh500,000 prize money from this race to boost my training for future races as I also continue to support my family,” Cheruyot added.

Men’s runner-up Douglas Kimeli (2:14:56), who was running the marathon for the first time, credited his personal best results to the good weather.

“I trained hard, this is why I posted am impressive time. I promise to return here next year to look for the ultimate victory,” Kimeli, who has just recovered from a nagging two year injury, said. “I prepared for this race for two months. I avoided sapping all my energy by not engaging in any race this season,” he added.

Kelvin Kipchoge (2:15:13), who was third, blamed the heat and the scorching sun for his spot, but he was glad to have taken part in a race because that is in line with his passion.

“This podium finish has motivated me ahead of the Eldoret City Marathon which I will be trying my luck very soon,” Kipchoge said.

Men's 42km winner Wilson Cheruiyot. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Mutwa was glad to take back the women’s trophy home at her Kitui backyard. Just like Kimeli, Mutwa said the Lukenya weather was quite favourable. “I’m from this zone, so I’m so much conversant with the atmosphere and the terrains even though I train in Kericho,” she said.

“I had a challenging time stepping up my exercises as I battled a hamstring injury which is still yet to heal. Also, the race was not easy, I was just so determined to make it to the finish line,” she said.

“I have no plans to take part in any international races but this marathon has helped me gauge my body ahead of the local Administration Police showdown,” Mutwa added.

At the same time, Morris Nyakundi and Simeon Ndinda clocked 1:19:43 and 2:11:03 to win the energy sapping 50km Cycling Challenge in the men and women’s category.

Athletes during the Lukenya University 10m trees marathon. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Nyakundi, who hails from Imara Daima in Nairobi, said elaborate training in Isinya and at the Karura Forest toughened him ahead of the contest.

He said the victory was a great encouragement for him to continue pursuing his goal in cycling.

“This competition was perfectly in line with my passion which is to save the environment that we live in,” he said.

Ndinda reiterated that her victory in the women’s category was an encouragement to go for other bigger titles.

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