Julius Chepkwony and Jane Kiptoo made it a Kenyan double at the Harmony Geneva Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Sunday morning (8).
With temperatures reaching 20C by the race’s conclusion, the winning times were understandably modest, with several athletes struggling over the latter half of the race.
Chepkwony, a winner at the Venice Marathon last October, made it two wins in a row at the 26.2-mile distance when crossing the line in 2:11:10, a couple of minutes outside his best of 2:09:00 which was run in Daegu two years ago and just 11 seconds shy of the course record.
“I tried so hard to push the pace at the end,” said Chepkwony. “I gave it everything, and I’m so happy to win.”
The one athlete to put up a stern challenge to Chepkwony was compatriot Emmanuel Sikuku, who finished a distant runner-up in the end in 2:12:44. For the 22-year-old, this was his highest marathon finish to date, his previous best being a third-place finish in Venice last year. However, like most competitors, he was well off his personal best, which remains the 2:11:20 he ran in Zurich two years ago.
Back in third was another 22-year-old Kenyan, Rony Kiboos, who ran 2:14:53 to claim his place on the podium.
While the men's race had a first-time champion, the same couldn’t be said of the women's race, which saw Kenya's Jane Kiptoo take victory in 2:35:03. Unsurprisingly given the conditions, the time was well outside her best of 2:31:21, set in Dusseldorf two years ago.
For the 33-year-old Kenyan, it was a sweet sense of deja vu, retaining in a time 41 seconds faster than she ran last year. "It's such a relief to win again," said Kiptoo. "Last year it was the rain, this year the heat but I held on."
However, unlike last year's race, Kiptoo faced a much harder battle to take victory this time, with Helen Japkurgat coming home just 12 seconds behind in 2:35:16. For the 27-year-old Kenyan, it was a marathon debut full of promise, and she is sure to go much quicker in her next outing.
Ethiopia's Dereje Roze turned in another creditable effort to finish third in 2:36:55 on what was just her second marathon, while Kenya's Ednah Kimaiyo was fourth in 2:37:30. France's Martha Komu finished sixth in 2:43:40,
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF
1 Julius Chepkwony (KEN) 2:11:11
2 Emmanuel Sikuku (KEN) 2:12:44
3 Rony Kiboos (KEN) 2:14:53
4 Petro Mamu (ERI) 2:15:16
5 Tariku Kinfu (ETH) 2:15:52
1 Jane Kiptoo (KEN) 2:35:04
2 Helen Jepkurgat (KEN) 2:35:16
3 Rose Dereje (ETH) 2:36:55
4 Ednah Kimaiyo (KEN) 2:37:30
5 Tesfanesh Denbi (ETH) 2:38:03