A 2:08 performance by Victor Kipchirchir at 2100m above sea level was one of those achievements that may happen only once in a person’s lifetime and I am glad to have been there to witness it.
By 5 AM in the morning, runners were already at the starting point waiting for the race officials to come and start off the race which was to happen two hours later as the women’s race kicked off at exactly 7:00 AM, followed by the men’s at 7:30 AM.
The defending women’s champion, Valary Ayaibei made an early lead in the women’s race even before reaching halfway, but she must have regretted it later in the race as other runners came to overtake her as she struggled and faded to finish outside the top 20 positions.
Two women from the now-famous Kapsait Nike athletics training camp, where the women’s marathon world record holder trains, displayed great teamwork running side by side almost the entire course before Mercy Kipchumba opened a slight gap in the last few hundred meters to win the race in 2:28:07 ahead of Judith Korir in 2:28:29. There was also a surprise finisher for the 3rd place in 2:29:49, whose mother, who was watching her on a TV in the village, managed to miraculously make it to the event venue to congratulate her despite the road closures!
The competition in the men’s race was fierce. It was a tough and fast race from the start with a huge pack keeping together in the leading pack until Kipchirchir broke away in the second half of the race and the chasing pack disintegrated into a single file.
Kipchirchir crossed the finish line well ahead of the rest in a new course record of 2:08:56. This was almost 2 minutes ahead of Leornard Langat coming in second at 2:10:40, followed by Emmanuel Bor for 3rd place in 2:11:10.