Family Bank Half Marathon, photo from Kenyan Athlete
Some fast running in Eldoret, but as Justin Lagat writes, few will know as the race may have been 3 kilometers long!
Action at the 9th edition of the Family Bank Eldoret Half Marathon, by Justin Lagat
Can a world record be broken in Kenya? I used to think that the answer to that question would simply be no, and the reason would be because of the high altitudes. But I discovered another reason today while running in the Family Bank Half Marathon in Eldoret as to why a world record can never be set in Kenya: Officials quickly extend the course when they see athletes about to reach the finish line in world record times. At least, that is what happened today.
This year's edition of the Family Bank Eldoret Half marathon witnessed a huge number of male participants, as usual. The women event's turnout though was not as impressive, but that is usually expected in many local road races in Kenya.
Like in the past years, the course was a 3km loop and officials waved big placards that showed the distances at the 3km point and at two other points on the course. It was great for predicting one's finishing time, for maintaining a target pace and for trying to run negative splits.
However, there was one problem. Apparently, the guys in the leading pack ran times that weren't supposed to be run in Kenya, especially at the high altitudes of Eldoret. The leaders in the men's race were approaching the finish line at around 57 minutes and the officials quickly added one more 3km lap for them.
The main aim of the Family Bank Eldoret half marathon is to discover new talents, and looking at the podium positions today, some talents were indeed found. Sammy Kirui overcame a strong field that is always expected in races around Eldoret and the confusion of the ineffective distance markers on the route to win the men's race in 1:02.42. Geofrey Kipyego who had led for in the earlier stages of the race took second in 1:03.07, while Robert Kipkorir completed the podium positions in 1:03.26. Carolyne Jepchirchir won the women race in 1:14.01, Betty Lembus followed second in 1:14.03 and Sophy Jepchirchir was third in 1:14.20.
At the finish, the officials were so effective and orderly and the results were being printed out for the press in record times. If not for the seemingly wrong measurements of the course, the race was a great one and was well organized. Athletes never ran out of water at the water points and the volunteers were very encouraging and supportive. Well, they were not scared of getting wet as they made sure that no athlete missed the water.
Even the rain was respectful of the event and held off until when it saw that the race was over, immediately started pouring down and dispersing the crowds after the first man crossed the finish line.
Despite the increasing number of participants each year which makes it hard for officials to control on the narrow streets of Eldoret town, the Family Bank half marathon race continues to get better each passing year and is one race that athletes look forward to every year.