Kenyans' Podium sweep: Ndungu, Jepkesho capture titles at Lisbon's big road races


Kenyan runners executed a clean sweep and won all four races at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Marathon and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Vodafone Half Marathon contested in the Portuguese capital on Sunday.

Samuel Ndungu and Visiline Jepkesho took the top honours in the marathon, winning in 2:08:21 and 2:26:47, both times course records despite rather windy conditions.

Ndungu secured his victory just after the 29th kilometre, when his compatriot Lawrence Kimayo fell after tripping over a pacemaker.

“I was very happy for the win here in Lisbon. I enjoyed much this course, flat and the pacemaker made his job very well,” said Ndungu, clearly referring to the tempo set rather than the fact that one of his main rivals had been hindered.

The leading men, including the first five finishers and their pacemakers, went through the halfway point in 1:03:52, which was close to what Ndungu wanted in his bid to break his personal best of 2:07:04, which had been set when he won the 2012 Lake Biwa Marathon.

“I intended to run under 2:07, but it wasn’t possible today. No problem with anything, it just wasn’t the day. I’ve prepared myself very well for Lisbon and I achieved my goal. Not the time, but the finish,” added Ndungu.

Robert Kwambai was a distant second, more than two minutes behind Ndungu in 2:10:33, with the badly shaken Kimayo third in 2:12:17 to complete an all-Kenyan men’s podium in the marathon.

Visiline Jepkesho now has two wins in two marathons to her name after she added the Lisbon title to the one she won in Milan earlier this year.

After three women went through the halfway point in a quick 1:11:55, Jepkesho was the one who suffered least over the second half of the race and she improved by almost two minutes from her debut over the classic distance in Italy back in April when she crossed the line in Lisbon in 2:26:47.

“I’m very happy with this win. I felt very healthy all the race and I made a great time. I expected to make a good performance but I didn’t think I could reach the personal record,” commented the winner.

Fellow Kenyan and pre-race favourite Agnes Kiprop finished second in 2.28.35 while Ethiopia’s Azalech Masresha was third in 2.29.43.

In the half marathon distance, Stephen Kibet started to pull away shortly at around 14 kilometres, quickly dropping his remaining rivals: Ethiopian Mosinet Geremew and Uganda’s Geofrey Kusuro. Kibet won in 1:01:06 with Geremew hanging on to finish second in 1:02:25 ahead of Kusuro third, four second in arrears, and Oloitipitt fourth in 1:02:36.

In the women 21km battle, Purity Rionoripo pulled away to win in 1:11:02, five seconds ahead of local star Sara Moreira.