Kenyan distant runners dominated in major global events over th weekend with veteran Kenneth Mungara setting a record in Italy.
The ageless Mungara, now 41, and a compatriot Lucy Karimi, won the 2015 Suisse Gas Milano Marathon titles, an International Association of Athletics Federation Bronze Label Road Race in 2:08:44 and :27:35 on Sunday while Mark Korir led Luka Kanda in a 1-2 finish for Kenyans in Paris on the same day.
Mungara, who hails from Limuru (about 40km North of Nairobi), ran the fastest marathon ever by a male runner over 40, shaving two seconds from the time Mexico’s Andres Espinosa ran in the 2003 Berlin Marathon.
During the race, nine men formed the leading group featuring two Kenyan pacemakers Emmanuel Kichwen and Asbel Kipsang, Mungara and six other compatriots- Philemon Baaru, William Koitile, Samson Bungei, Cyprian Kotut and Paul Lipkorir Kipkemoi as well as Caldeira De Almeida from Brazil.
They went through at 5km in 15:15, 10km in 30:24, 15km in 45:40 and they hit the halfway mark in an impressive 1:04:11 before the second half of the race.
Kipsang and Kichwen then passed through 30 km in 1:31:22 with a gap of 10 seconds back to Kotut, Baaru, Koitile, Bungei and Mungara. As the pacemakers dropped out, the leading pack was whittled down to five runners just after 30km- Mungara, Baaru, Bungei, Kotut and Koitile.
This group battled it out until 40km before Mungara then broke away with one Kilometre to go and never looked back.
Cyprian Kotut, a brother to three-time London Marathon champion Martin Lel, finished second in 2:08:55 in his debut over the distance. Two more men dipped under 2:10. Philemon Baaru was third in 2:09:08 and Koitile fourth in 2:09:58.
Sunday’s outing was the fourth fastest of Mungara career and he has won 10 of his 21 marathons in a late-blooming career.
“The course and the weather were good. You can run fast times. It was a tough race until the end”, said Mungara, after crossing the finishing line in the Corso Venezia in the Centre of Milan.
In another brilliant show, the world’s elite runners descended on the French capital on Sunday, as the Paris Marathon took Centre stage.
In a thrilling men’s race, Kenyan athlete Mark Korir produced a remarkable display to be crowned champion, chalking up a time of two0 hours, five minutes and 49 seconds in his first ever marathon race. Another Kenyan Luka Kanda finished second with time of 2:07.20 while Seboka Tola of Ethiopia was third chalking 2:07.33.
In Vienna and Rotterdam that took place on the same day, Ethiopians Lemman Sisay and Abera Kuma denied their Kenyan rivals the victories that could have seen the East Africa Athletics Powerhouse reign supreme.
Sisay overpowered Duncan Koech who was the pre-race favourite. He timed 2:07.31 while Koech came second in 2:12.14. Gena Siraj, another Ethiopian, was third in 2:12.48.
Kenyan finished second, third and fourth with Switzerland Neverschwander Maj taking the win in 2:30.09. Agnes Mutune timed 2:30.19 in second places ahead of compatriots Esther Chemtai and Caroline Chepkwony who completed in 2:30.31 and 2:30.36 respectively.
Veteran Mark Kiptoo was denied deserving victory by dark horse Abera,finishing the Rotterdam course in 2:07.21 against the winner’s 2:o6.47. Another Kenyan Bernard Koech timed 2:08.02 in third place. There was no Kenyan in the women line-up.
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