Mumbai Marathon silver medallist David Tarus on Sunday won the inaugural Sotokoto Safari Half Marathon in 1:02.29.
The race, which started and ended inside the Nairobi National Park, also saw Japan-based Philis Ongori, who runs for Hokuren Athletics Club in Hokaido City, grab the women’s title.
Each pocketed Sh1.2 million, but the champions failed to meet the organisers’ target of a sub-60 minute finish.
The appearance of a buffalo at the starting point, three kilometres into the park’s Ivory Burning Site, added flavour to the theme of the race in the wild, “Running together for peace and conservation”.
The runners covered the first five kilometres in about 13 minutes in the chilly morning.
A lead pack of more than seven kept together, going past Nyayo National Stadium in a closed pack up to the South C flyover when Geoffrey Kinyanjui, David Tarus, Charles Sigei and Nicholas Kamakya surged forward.
Then Tarus increased his pace as the rest struggled, consequently winning the Sh1.2 million top prize in the men’s race.
“I knew I was good at the climb. I waited, and when the chance came I pushed hard, and that is what made the diffrence,” Tarus said after the race.
Kamakya, dominant in the local cross country meetings, came second in 1:03.15, ahead of Sigei (1:03.47), Gilbert Yegon (1:03.54) and Gilbert Kirwa (1:03.55).
It was the same scenario in the women’s race, although Ongori had to wait until the Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters point before she struck. She sprinted the last three kilometres, posting 1:11.11, ahead of Helena Kiprop (1:11.41) and Caroline Kilal Chepkurui (1:12.35).
Men:- David Tarus 1:02.29, Nicholas Kamakya 1:03.15, Charles Sigei 1:03.47, Gilbert Yegon 1:03.35, Gilbert Kirwa 1:03.55, Geoffrey Ngugi 1:04.01, Joel Kimaru 1:04.04, Jacob Yator 1:04.08, Willy Mwangi 1:04.14, Gilbert Chepkwony 1:04.19
Women:- Philis Ongori 1:11.11, Elena Kiprop 1:11.41, Caroline Kilal Chepkurui 1:12.35, Leah Malot 1:14.16, Kiprop Helan 1:14.42, Elizabeth Rumokal 1:15.39, Irene Limika 1:16.14, Monica Wangare 1:16.17, Jane Kihara 1:16.26, Chemutai Rionotokei 1:16.54