Little-known Edwin Kipyego beat a classy field to win Sunday’s 21st Nike International Discovery Kenya half marathon in Eldoret.
The 24-year-old produced a superlative show, blowing away the stellar line-up to smithereens at the men’s exclusive race in the athletics-rich North Rift.
Kipyego, from Iten, formed the leading pack, comprising London Marathon winner Emmanuel Mutai, 2009 Rotterdam Marathon runner-up James Kwambai and world half marathon bronze medalist Bernard Kiprop, at the half-way mark.
The urge from his fans saw him step up the pace at 14-kilometre mark when Mutai, Kwambai and Kiprop seemed to have run out of gas.
Basking in a brilliant 61.23 personal best time he posted early last year at the Ribarroja de Turia in Spain, Kipyego maintained rhythm as he strolled to victory in 62 minutes and 30.3 seconds.
Half marathon specialist Enock Mitei (62:41.3), Victor Kipchirchir (62:47.4), Anthony Maritim (62:51.1) and Jackson Limo (62:54.3) followed.
Mutai (62:55.2), the 2010/2011 World Marathons Majors jackpot winner, faded to sixth place as new catch Loritanya Komon (62:57.7) and cross-country sensation Bernard Koech (63:03.0) wound up seventh and eighth.
Daniel Kipkemei (63:14.4) and world cross-country runner Peter Kimeli (63:26.20 followed as Italian road-racer Ruggero Pertice and Kwambai disappeared off the radar.
“I never expected to win the race. I just wanted to test how an injury I picked up last October was responding. I have no plans to step up to full marathon soon,” the soft-spoken and shy Kipyego said. But runner-up Mitei, who staged his comeback after a five-year-break out of action, sprung into limelight.
The elite marathoners used the contest to gauge their form in the run up to Boston, London and Rotterdam marathons due in April.
Mutai will defend his title at the London Marathon while Kwambai will race at the Seoul International Marathon in March.
1. Edwin Kipyego 62:30.28, 2. Enock Mitei (62:41.25), 3. Victor Kipchirchir (62:47.4), 4. Anthony Maritim (62:51.1), 5. Jackson Limo (62:54.3), 6. Emmanuel Mutai (62:55.2), 7. Loritonya Komon (62:57.7), 8. Bernard Koech (63:03.0), 9. Daniel Kipkemei (63:14.4), 10. Peter Kimeli (63:26.2).