2014 Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon Discovers New Talents, by Justin Lagat


Justin Lagat wrote this piece about the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon, which happened on 26 October 2014. Here is his feature on the Nairobi Marathon. 
2014 Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon Discovers New Talents, by Justin Lagat

Apart from raising over 26 million Kenyan shillings for the Seeing is Believing initiative, a cause that seeks to eliminate avoidable blindness in children, the 2014 Nairobi Marathon has today become a launching pad for the careers of two hitherto unknown athletes who had never won any race before and did not have managers coming into the race.

Peter Kosgei, who comes from an area not far from where Dennis Kimetto and Geoffrey Mutai hail from, won the men's 42km race in 2:12.24 followed closely by Elias Barno in 2:12.28 while Weldon Kirui took third position in 2:12.44.

The women race was won by Eunice Jeptoo in a relatively slower time of 2:44.05. She had finished in fourth place last year, but she is not crediting her win this year to that experience, instead she believes that the pace-setter she employed and the field which was - due to the hike in the registration money - not as competitive as last year's contributed to her win. Jeptoo also gave credit to the hilly courses she trains on at Ngong in Nairobi because they prepared her well for the marathon's course. Irene Kwambai followed to take second place in 2:44.16 while Janet Cheruiyot completed the podium finishes in 2:44.33.

The 42km event had started at exactly 7:00 am, just like it has always happened in the past years. This is one reason why this marathon is one of the most organized in the country: Punctuality.

However, for a number of times there has been some neglect on the organizer's part when it comes to the 10km event. Today, the elite's leading pack were mislead and ended up running for over 13km while those who were running behind them took the right route and finished earlier. In 2007, I was a pacesetter for the lady, Gladys Chemweno, who won the event and also encountered a similar confusion towards the finish where we were also misdirected and had to cross the finish line two times while those who came behind her finished earlier, but things were sorted out well after the confusion.

Today as I watched the 42km race, I was following the race and comparing the times the runners were using to cross the same points I had crossed last year while I ran it with my times, I noticed that some slight changes had been made towards the finish which shortened the course by at least 400m. Some of the adjustments were that the runners did not take one lap on the tartan track in the Nyayo National Stadium as we had done last year, but just finished as they entered the stadium.

Live coverage of the event was done well by Citizen TV, a local TV channel here in Kenya. One commentator had to answer a viewer who had sought to know why the commentators were not telling viewers the names of those in the lead pack and the answer was quite satisfactory; that in Kenya, new unknown stars are always on the lead pack unlike with the major marathons out of the country where the elites are known and are the topic of the media even months before the race.
The men's 21km event was won by Barselius Kipyego in 1:03.12 followed by Edwin Kiptanui in 1:03.29. Naliaka Simiyu won the women race in 1:14.52 after opening a sizeable gap between her and Eunice Kioko who came to finish second in 1:15.40.

Thanks to the sponsors of this race, for now, there must be a rush by international athletics managers to take in the athletes who have also earned a living for themselves after completing the relatively tough course and beating similarly tough challengers to emerge winners at the 12th Edition of this race.

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