First Gold for Kenya in the Women's Marathon by Justin Lagat, note by Larry Eder

Justin Lagat is our man in Kenya. RunBlogRun asked Justin Lagat to watch the events and give us his thoughts on how his countrymen and countrywomen were doing! Here is his piece on the wonderful run of Edna Kiplagat. 

Kiplagat_Edna1c-Kenya12.jpg                                      Edna Kiplagat, Kenya, February 2012, 
                                                   photo by


It was good that the women's marathon became the first event to be shown live here in Kenya by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) at exactly 1pm Kenyan time. A perfect opportunity for us to tour Moscow city through our TV screens before the rest of the events could take place later in the stadium.

In a weather that looked perfect for good pictures to be transmitted via TV stations, but perhaps a little bit too hot for the athletes, the race started in a fast pace. Straneo of Italy and Fukushi taking an early lead until around the 5km mark when a group of Ethiopian athletes and Lucy Kabuu of Kenya caught up with them as they crossed the mark in 17:06. Valentine Jepkorir soon joined the leading group and gave company to her compatriot. Edna Kiplagat at the moment was leading another group of a chasing pack.

The leading group crossed the 10km mark in 34:13. It was still a fast pace. Edna Kiplagat was beginning to use a lot of effort in closing the gap as she left the athletes who had been in her group following in a single file. She caught up with the leaders at the 15km mark and as if Straneo and Fukushi noticed that she had finally closed the gap, they increased the pace a little and Edna led the rest of the group that dropped slightly behind them. It was after one hour when for the first time another athlete stepped in front of Straneo, but only to pick up some water. It was Edna Kiplagat, and was only momentarily before the Italian resumed the lead again.

At half point, there were still three Kenyans, one Ethiopian, one Italian and one Japanese in the leading pack. But then the group soon disintegrated and two Kenyans dropped from the pack leaving Edna Kiplagat alone with Meselech Melkamu of Ethiopia, Valeria Straneo of Italy and Kayoko Fukushi of Japan. The Japanese athlete began fading slowly from the leaders as the race progressed from there.

After 1hr and 50mins, Melkamu dropped leaving only Straneo and Kiplagat in the lead. Will Straneo get to lead from gun to tape in this marathon? The possibility looked imminent at that point. It was a matter of time before we could witness it. It was hard to tell whether Kiplagat was just staying behind her to benefit from the pacing, or whether she was struggling to keep up with the pace.

With about 5km to go, it was beginning to be a tense moment. Anything could happen. From behind, Fukushi was gaining on Melkamu as the two seemed to be competing for the bronze medal while the other two in the lead, Kiplagat and Straneo competed for the gold medal! The Ethiopian stopped running and looked back after Fukushi ran past her. She kept walking. At that point, Japan was definitely was assured of a bronze medal. The battle now was still on between the leading two athletes; Kiplagat and Straneo, the latter still leading as she had been doing from the start.

With less than 2km to go, Kiplagat passed by Straneo and started to create a gap. The gap kept growing and victory looked obvious for Kenya as she entered the stadium amid cheers from the crowds. It was a great moment for Kenya as the country took home the first gold medal! Straneo of Italy took the Silver medal; good a present for the perfect pacing she did throughout the race. She looked so elated and I was happy for her too. Japan won the bronze medal.

This first race for Kenya served to heal some of the disappointments that the country suffered during the London Olympics last year. Congratulations to Edna Kiplagat!

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