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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 08:19, October 24, 2005
Kenya's newcomers win Nairobi International Marathon
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Newcomers Kenyans Samson Barmao and Caroline Cheptanui Kilel won the third Nairobi International Marathon men and women's race, respectively, on Sunday.

Each took home 1.5 million shillings (about 20,000 US dollars), the highest prize money for any sport in the east African nation.

The 23-year old Barmao also gave his team, Global Sports Communication a head start in the Greatest Race on Earth series, clocking two hours 12 minutes 15 seconds.

Other members of the team, former Olympics champion at the Steeplechase Mathew Birir, twice Dubai Marathon champion Wilson Kibet and Hussein Gose will compete in other races scheduled for Singapore, Mumbai and Hong Kong, China.

The absolutely delighted Barmao, who was on his first marathon stalked the men's field, always within striking distance until the 35km mark, flat stretch, when he attacked the leading pack of Noah Kiplagat, former cross country ace Enock Mitei and the 2001 Chicago Marathon Benedict Kimondiu.

Elius Kemboi Chelimo finished third in 2:13:40 in the race which saw early leader Kiplagat fade to eighth position.

With 7km to go, Kiplagat relinquished the lead he had held from the 5km mark to Barmao, 13th in last year's Berlin Half Marathon and a pace maker in Amsterdam.

Kimondiu, who clocked 2:12:38 to finish in the second place, gave chase in vain as Barmao literally sprinted to the finish for his biggest pay check of his career.

"I used my head, calculated until I got the right moment to charge ahead. The other athletes were very good and we played mind games," Barmao said after the finish.

Barmao said he had ran only three half marathons previously his best placing being Third and Fifth respectively in the Nike Eldoret Half.

"I have trained for five months and I owe this most especially to Simon Cheboror," he said.

Barmao's grand winner's cash of 1.5 million shillings was a windfall he took time to soak in.

Almost in tears he said: "I thank God for assisting me to win this. It is a most wonderful gift. I will buy myself a shamba ( farm) then marry. I want to win again and again from now on."

On the women's race, Kilel, ranked 14th in the world at the 10 miles last year, found herself surrounded by men and women challengers with a fairly impressive but managed to win without any strong opposition to post 2:36:08.

She won the women's race in a strong field that included last year's women's winner, the 29-year-old mother-of-four Chemokil Chilapong, who upset twice London Marathon champion Joyce Chepchumba to run away with the title and 1.2 million shillings in prize money.

The 23-year-old Kilel of Kericho, southwest Kenya exhibited great running confidence gained in recent competition.

She represented Kenya in the recent world half marathon championships in Canada where she finished 14th.

Kilel was followed by little known Irene Cherotich who clocked 2:37:52 and Pamela Jepchumba finished third in 2:41:12.

Defending women's champion, the sensational Chilapong, the first timer who astounded pundits last year, was one of those who dramatically faded.

Chilapong who finished 11th said she took a fall at the beginning of the race and her body was badly shaken, becoming a handicap in the entire race.

On the men's race, second placed Kimondiu who failed to follow team orders while pacing for Paul Tergat in Chicago said he lacked the kick to give chase but saluted the young runner who showed a lot of depth.

Over 12,000 runners took part in the annual Nairobi race that gives the city its only look of an annual carnival.

Source: Xinhua

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