Records were broken at this year’s Steinmetz Gaborone Marathon’s 42.2 km race as Kenyan athletes placed an iron grip on the annual event. After last year’s event that saw Kenyans get the first two podium positions, this time around the Kenyans ensured they take all the top three positions in the men’s race while their woman compatriot clinched first position in the ladies’ category.
In what was largely a Kenyan affair, it was 35-year-old Luka Chelimo who won the marathon, beating his compatriots Ezikiel Tarus and Kennet Kipkemoi into second and third place, respectively.
Chelimo ran an impressive 2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds to win the marathon and pocket P50 000 prize money in the process. The diminutive runner shaved off exactly 15 seconds off the 2 hours 15 minutes and 40 seconds record set by his compatriot. Simon Njorge in the 2012 edition of the marathon to set the race’s new record. Tarus, who won second place in the race, came a minute and 32 seconds behind Chelimo while Kipkemoi was a further 2 minutes and 16 seconds behind the winner.
As has been the case in the last two editions, Botswana’s runners paled in the face of competition with only Raobina Ramoseka continuing his dominance on local athletes. Ramoseka was the first local athlete to reach the finish line, something which he has done consistently over the race’s past editions.
Commenting on the race, Ramoseka said the race’s stature is continuing to grow, adding that this year’s edition was the toughest and most competitive.
On the performance of local athletes, Ramoseka said, as things stand, it will take a long time before local athletes win the marathon.
“We will need better development and support if we are to win these races. These athletes, more especially the Kenyans, are a product of development in their country. Also, the fact that they train in high altitudes makes them better prepared for the marathons,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean athlete Samukeliso Moyo’s reign at the top of the ladies category of the marathon was brought to an end by Peris Jepkorir of Kenya. Jepkorir clocked 2 hours 39 minutes and 31 seconds to win the women’s race with 22-year-old Leena Ekandjo of Namibia and Moyo coming second and third, respectively. Ekandjo completed the race in 2 hours 41 and 32 seconds while Moyo did it in 2 hours 42 minutes 33 seconds.
Speaking in an interview after the race, Moyo said this year’s race was much faster and tougher than in the past year.
“These young athletes are very fast. At the end of the first lap, there were ten ladies in the leading pack. Things changed 23 kilometers into the race as the pace picked up. From there, it was all about survival. You were chasing the leading athletes whilst you are being chased by other athletes behind you,” the veteran Zimbabwean runner explained.
Meanwhile, despite not doing well in the main race, local runners did well in the race’s half marathon where Botswana’s duo of Godiraone Nthompe and Rapula Diphoko came first and second in the men’s race. The duo was followed on third by Namibia’s Simon Shipingana.
The ladies half marathon was however won by Faithy Nyasango of Zimbabwe while Namibia’s Sarti Eishitile and Botswana’s Mema Tiango came second and third, respectively.
In the 10KM Men race, it was Botswana’s Shephard Kenatshele who won the race while Zimbabwean duo of Simbarashe Chikada and Rabson Chigara came second and third in succession. The ladies 10 km race was won by Helalia Johannes of Namibia while Olivia Chitate of Zimbabwe and Lavinia Haitope of Namibia came in second and third, respectively.