Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kibet and Lornah reign supreme at Lagos meet

Holland’s Lornah Kiplagat after winning the Glo Lagos International Half Marathon in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1.07:49, on Saturday. Kenya’s Luke Kibet won the men’s race in 1.16:23. Photo/REUTERS

Holland’s Lornah Kiplagat after winning the Glo Lagos International Half Marathon in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1.07:49, on Saturday. Kenya’s Luke Kibet won the men’s race in 1.16:23. Photo/REUTERS 

By CHRIS MUSUMBA and IAAF

Kenya‘s Luke Kibet and the Dutchwoman Lornah Kiplagat won the men’s and women’s races at the Glo Lagos International Half Marathon on Saturday.

Kibet beat a strong men’s field winning with a time of one hour seven minutes and 49 seconds, while Kiplagat also eased to victory in 1.16:23 to pocket the Sh3.9 million ($50,000) each winners’ prizes in Africa’s richest half marathon.

The race was held under extreme conditions of 33 degrees and a humidity of 90 percent which reminded the athletes of the World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa in 2007 which Kiplagat triumphed in senior women’s race.

Although the first few kilometres were very slow, both winners who have experience training in almost similar conditions and adjusted quickly angling their gas cylinders to the required positions and it was hard for the competition to follow.

Kibet is also a gold medallist at the last World Athletics Championships in Osaka, Japan in 2007 while Kiplagat won of the World Half Marathon Championship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last year, her third straight victory in the global 21km race.

Kibet led the field right from the gun to the tape, beating second-placed Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia by more than a minute.

It was a reaffirmation by Kibet that his win over Kebede, a bronze medallist in the Beijing Olympics marathon, was no fluke.

Kebede clocked 1.08:52, while third-placed Nixon Kiprono was timed at 1.09:17.

Kiplagat, who took up Dutch citizenship after marrying coach/manager Pieter Langerhorst in 2003, was more than three minutes ahead of her nearest rival, Hilda Kibet, the European cross country champion and Kiplagat’s cousin.

Kibet, also a naturalised Dutchwoman born in Kenya, was timed at 1.19:27, 40 seconds ahead of Jane Gakunyi, who came third. Gakunyi clocked 1.20:06.

The times were slow due to the fact that the distance was almost 23km, two longer than a normal half Marathon. The men‘s and women‘s runners-up won Sh1.95 million ($25,000) each, while the second runners-up got Sh1.2 million ($15,000).

“I ran with some great competitors and that made me give my best. I enjoyed the race despite the heat and humidity and the organisation was fantastic,” he said.

Kiplagat, barely out of breath after decimating the field, said the conditions suited her perfectly.

She said: “I‘m proud this great race is taking place in Africa. Lagos has made all Africans proud.”

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