Amidst the sadness following the death of two-time world bronze medalist Agnes Tirop, Kenyan athletes brightened the dark moment with historic wins yesterday.
From Paris to Amsterdam and to Cape Town, Kenya’s long distance athletes produced splendid victories in marathons.
Elisha Rotich won the Paris Marathon in 2:04:23, shattering a 2:05:04 course record set by Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele in 2014.
Ethiopian Hailemaryam Kiros came in second ahead of Hillary Kipsambu of Kenya who closed the podium places. Ethiopian Tigist Memuye topped the women’s race.
Seven Kenyan men were among the top ten finishers in the Paris marathon.
Barselius Kipyego, Morris Gachaga, Joel Kimurer, Mike Kiptum and Nicolas Kirwa settled in fourth, sixth, eighth, ninth and tenth places respectively.
The men’s field featured five athletes with sub-2:06 personal bests. They were Kirwa, who set his 2:05:01 PB in Milan in May. Kimurer was 18 seconds behind Kirwa in Milan.
In the women’s race, Memuye ran a time of two hours 26 minutes and 12 seconds. Yenenesh Dinkesa and Fantu Jimma came second and third as Ethiopians swept the podium places.
Memuye placed second in the Geneva marathon in May, running 2:24:23 in the Swiss race. Despite running almost two minutes slower in Paris, she grabbed her first marathon win.
Janet Ruguru, Antonina Kwambai and Priscah Jeptoo were in the top ten in the women’s marathon. They were fifth, seventh and tenth respectively.
Ten years ago, Jeptoo claimed victory on the streets of the French capital, but came in tenth in the 2021 edition, yesterday.
The Paris Marathon which featured 60,000 participants from 145 countries, was initially scheduled for April this year, but was pushed to October.
In the Netherlands, Angela Tanui was writing history at the Amsterdam Marathon. The Kenyan set a course record in the women’s marathon in her 2:17:57 win. The mark was also her Personal Best.
Tanui was ahead of compatriot Maureen Chepkemoi who came in a distant second in 2:20:18. Ethiopia’s Haven Hailu of Ethiopia came in third in a time of 2:20:19.
Bernard Koech ran 2:04:07 to finish second in the men’s category behind winner, Ethiopian Tamirat Tola (2:03:37). Leul Gebresilase was third in 2:04:07.
In the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, debutant Lydia Simiyu sprinted to victory, cutting the tape in 2:25:41.
Compatriot Lucy Karimi finished second with Ethiopian Aynalem Teferi third.