Ernest Kebenei en route to his victory in the Nyeri Half Marathon (Peter Njenga) © Copyright
Thirty-four days since winning the Standard Chartered Nairobi Half Marathon, Ernest Kebenei continued with his winning ways by taking the 13th edition of the Safaricom Nyeri Half Marathon in Nyeri town, 160km north of Nairobi on Sunday (29).
Tesco Prague Grand Prix 10km champion Gladys Kerubo was winner in the women's category in yet another course record.
Kebenei won in style after clocking a new record time of 1:01:31 after trailing early leader Enock Mitei who ran 1:01:45 before shooting into the lead in the closing stages.
“The course was very hilly and I realised I was strong with five kilometres left and that is when I started charging up the field,” said Kebenei who has also won the Little Rock and Garry Bjorklund races in the United States this year.
Joel Maina took third in 1:01:58 ahead of fourth placed former World junior champion Gordon Mugi (1:02:05) in the race that attracted 197 runners. Last year’s winner, Peter Muriuki held the previous course record of 1:01:52.
In the women’s event, another course record performance was staged by Kerubo who breasted the tape in 1:11:44 to fend off recovering Margaret Mukunzi (1:11:47) in a close finish.
Kerubo who had never run the 21km race in her career moved to the front at the 11km mark and at the end, did enough to hold off Mukunzi who grew stronger at the latter stages of the event.
“I’m very pleased with this victory that I was not expecting being my first time to run the half marathon. I’m preparing for road races in Europe next year,” Kerubo who also won the 5km race at Masai Mara Marathon, said.
Mukunzi, a runner-up from Great North Run in the UK last year who was competing in only her third race after almost an entire season in the sidelines due to injury expressed satisfaction with her performance.
“I’m just recovering and though I did not win, I’m happy that my body was in great shape and I look forward to competing well again,” Mukunzi stated.
Event patron and two-time World Marathon champion Catherine Ndereba congratulated the winners for their good performance.
“I pay tribute to the runners who have put their best effort on a difficult course that even though I have never run on it, I know it takes a lot. Something needs to be done next year to ensure we do not have many road races so close together.
“The number of participants fell this year because there was the Nairobi Cross Country (Saturday) and Mara Marathon (a week ago) among others and runners cannot recover in good time for Nyeri,” Ndereba said.
Peter Njenga for the IAAF
Leading RESULTS -
1. Ernest Kebenei 1:01:39
2. Dennis Musau 1:01:45
3. Enock Mitei 1:01:51
4. Joel Maina 1:01:58
5. Gordon Mugi 1:02:05
6. Ezekiel Cherop 1:02:28
7. Samson Mungai 1:02:32
8. Geoffrey Ngugi 1:02:42
9. Samson Kibet 1:02:55
10. Joseph Kamau 1:03:04
1. Gladys Kerubo 1:11:44
2. Magdalene Mukunzi 1:11:47
3. Monica Wangari 1:12:51
4. Ann Wanjiru 1:13:06
5. Jane Nyambura 1:13:29
6. Joscah Obare 1:13:51
7. Lucy Njeri 1:14:03
8. Lydia Njeri 1:14:40
9. Antoninah Ruto 1:14:41
10. Jackline Musyawa 1:14:23