By Gilbert Wandera
For Ernest Kiprugut Kebenei winning this year’s Standard Chartered Marathon could not have come at a better time.
The 27-year-old runner from Eldoret North walked home with the top prize of Sh1.5 million and among his immediate plans is to marry his sweetheart Pamela Cheruiyot, a student at Baraton University.
The ceremony has been scheduled for December meaning the cash will come in handy to help him make arrangements to have a grand wedding.
"I will use part of the money for my wedding and invest the rest. My plan is buy land and build rental houses which will bring me a regular income," revealed the new winner who clocked 2:10.54.
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Kebenei won the half marathon in 2009 and believes this gave him the impetus to go for the big one since he became more familiar with the course.
"The weather was just perfect. It was neither hot nor cold and this assisted me greatly going through the course," he said.
At 35km mark, Kebenei says he felt comfortable enough to go for the top prize with a time then of 1:39.00 but admitted that those behind him were very strong towards the end of the race.
Kebenei was seventh in the Ndakaini half marathon held in July as part of his preparations for the Standard Chartered race. He finished ninth in the Ndalat Gaa Cross Country in another build up to Sunday’s race.
In the women race, 32-year-old Margaret Toroitich went home richer in what was a balancing act between motherhood and taking care of her husband’s farm in Keiyo. Toroitich won in a time of 2:30.17
Toroitich has two daughters, an 18-year-old who is in Form Three and a three-year-old who is about to start pre-school.
She attributed her win to support from her immediate family who believed in her and encouraged her to go for her dream of a maiden win in the marathon.
"My husband and children were very supportive as they gave me time to train and rest. My husband took care of the farm allowing me time to focus on my preparations for the race," she said.
Now Toroitich says she will repay her family’s support by investing the Sh1.5 million she won in her husband’s business and a joint farm back in Keiyo.
Toroitich started running marathon in 2003 and finished third in the Standard Chartered Mumbai marathon held the same year.
This she says inspired her to desire to win at home and at the beginning of the year she embarked on serious training.
She finished second at the Ndakaini half marathon and this gave her plenty of confidence to go for the big prize in Sunday’s event.
"Today the race was very tough. When we started I was in fifth position and used the men to pace me up. It helped me because it kept me strong. The weather was also very friendly and it assisted in a great way," she revealed after he win.
The 2009 Hong Kong marathon champion Winfrida Kwamboka finished second in a time 2:31:33 while Emily Chepkorir finished third.
In half marathon Dennis Kipruto, a 18-year-old who trains with Boston marathon champion Geoffrey Mutai, won in 1:01.31 with Joseph Aperumoi taking second place in 1:02.20 while third place went to Mathew Rotich 1:03.36. He was followed by Edwin Kibet 1:03.04 and Hosea Naelel 1:03.17.
The women half marathon was won by Elizabeth Chelegat 1:12.10 ahead of Hellen Jepkurgat, who retained her position from last year’s event in 1:14.15 while third place went to Baroness Chepkurui 1:15.32.
Eunice Nyawira was fourth in 1:16.43 while Masila Donge was fifth in 1:17.26.
Pamela Lisoreng was second in the 10km race behind winner Joyce Chepkurui who won $1100 (Sh110,000).