Our correspondent from Kenya, Justin Lagat, wrote about the succesful runs by Kenyan athletes in humid Singapore on Sunday, December 3, 2017.
The hot and humid weather conditions forced the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon to be run at night this Sunday. It started at 4:30AM in Singapore, which meant that Kenyan fans had to stay up late here in Kenya to watch the event beginning at 11:30PM on Saturday night and ending past 2:00AM on Sunday morning.
But, staying awake late into the night did not go in vain for the Kenyan fans when their runners rewarded them by dominating the podium positions in both the men and women races.
Even though the race started out in the cover of darkness, runners in the men’s race still ran cautiously almost the entire way. There were a few surges here and there from Ethiopia’s Dereje Debele who later on faded out in the last stages of the race. A large group of about 15 runners kept running together in a huge lead pack for the better part of the race before Cosmas Koech, at around the 38km mark, suddenly lined them all in a single file and kept the consistently hot pace without looking back. It was a strategy that worked well for him. All he needed to do in the last two kilometers was to take a quick glance while taking a bend and make sure he kept his chasers at a good distance. With almost 400m to go he was already celebrating and waving to fans as he went to finish the race in 2:22:48. Justus Kipkogei came strongly from behind to overtake Kennedy Lilan and Paul Mateka in the last kilometer to finish second in 2:23:07 while Mateka completed the top three positions in2:23:25.
Compared with the men’s race, the women’s was a relatively faster one. Eight runners kept together in the lead pack, perhaps with the fear of being dropped to run alone in darkness motivated some to hang on. A decisive move was made at around the 35km point as day break began to appear and it didn’t take long before the three race favorites of Rebecca Chesir, Pamela Rotich and Peninah Arusei were the only ones remaining in the leading pack. Arusei was the first one to drop back from the relentless pace as Rotich and Chesir kept running shoulder to shoulder. With about two kilometers to go, Rotich was slightly ahead of Chesir and gesturing to her to close the gap so they would push the pace together, but the gap kept increasing.
The two runners were jogging in a single file in the last kilometer that appeared endless, even to fans watching the race as the runners fought with the hot weather to try and finish the race. Rotich crossed the finish line to win the race in 2:38:31. The defending champion held on to the second position in 2:38:48 while their compatriot, Arusei came closely behind them to finish third in 2:39:07.