Honolulu Marathon champion Titus Ekiru arrives back home Wednesday night hoping his victory will inspire other athletes from his home area in Turkana County.
Since John Kelai won the Commonwealth Games title in 2010 in New Delhi, India, no athlete from the county has really broken onto the big stage until Ekiru struck in Honolulu on Sunday, improving from fourth place last year to run the third-fastest time ever in the 46-year-old race.
Vivian Kiplagat, who won the women's title, also arrives back home at 10pm on Wednesday along with Ekiru on a KLM flight from Amsterdam with a huge reception expected for the athletes.
It was a men's clean sweep with Ekiru winning in two hours, nine minutes and one second followed by Reuben Kerio Kiprop (2:12:59) and Vincent Yator (2:15:31).
Kiplagat's winning time was 2:36:22 and she was followed home by compatriot Sheila Jerotich (2:42:02) with Japan's Era Suzuki finished third in 2:47:53. Ekiru who trains in the Stanley Biwott camp in Kapsabet and had won the Mexico City Marathon earlier this year.
"My victory should motivate others that they too can make it if they work and train hard," said the athlete whose base has been Kitale until he shifted to Mosoriot in Nandi County to train in the Biwott camp.
“My actual home is just outside Lodwar and since the conditions there aren’t suitable for training due to the heat, I’ve concentrated my training in Kapsabet. But I also have roots in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County,” he said.
“I will now rest and plan for next year, hoping to do one marathon around April,” he added.
The Honolulu Marathon is the fourth biggest marathon in USA after Boston, Chicago and New York.
Jimmy Muindi holds the record of six wins with pioneer Ibrahim Hussein, the first man to win a major marathon in USA, having broken ground with his hat-trick of victories in 1985, 86 and 87.