National cross country champion Kibiwott Kandie day won the men’s title in the 14th edition of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates.
The Kenya Defence Forces officer, who trains in Ngong, Kajiado County, ran a tactical race and crossed the finish line in a personal best time of 58:58.
Ethiopia’s Ababel Brihane set a new world half marathon record of 1:04:31 in the women’s race after upsetting women’s marathon record holder Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei.
“I’m happy to have delivered good results because the race was tough. Proper training paid off,” Kandie told the Nation Sport on the phone.
The athlete who is attached to Kenya Army in Embakasi said the weather was good in the first 15km but he slowed down in the last few kilometres when it became windy.
“All was well until the 15km mark when my pace dropped owing to the strong winds. I observed my competitors who appeared weary. Running from the back was my secret weapon. I’m happy it worked for me,” he said.
Kandie hopes he will be selected to represent Kenya in the World Half Marathon Championship to be held in Gdynia, Poland, on March 29.
“I will return home and rest before I start training for the next assignment. My goal is to compete in the World Half Marathon Championship,” added the athlete.
In the men’s race Alexander Mutiso was second after clocking 59:16 while Ethiopia’s Mule Wasihun settled for third position after running in 59:47.
Africa Cross Country champion Alfred Barkach was a distant fourth with 59:49 while Vincent Raimoi was in fifth (59:51).
In the women’s contest, race favourite Kosgei was beaten to second place in the tight race in which she clocked 1:04:49.
It was a two-horse race before Brihane finally surged forward, leaving Kosgei behind and lowered Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei’s world record time by 20 seconds.
Debutant Rosemary Wanjiru was third in her personal best of 1:05:34.
The Kapsait-based Kosgei, however remains the fastest woman in the distance, after clocking 1:04:28 last year during the Great North Half Marathon in UK last year. However, the time was not ratified by the World Athletics.
Kosgei’s coach Eric Kimaiyo said that the athlete, who had promised a world record, suffered a hip injury. She struggled to make it to the finish line, he said.
“I want to congratulate Ababel for breaking the record. Concerning Kosgei, she had a small problem on her hip, but there is no cause for alarm. We are now going to focus on the London Marathon scheduled for April 26. Brigid will be seeking defend her title,” Kimaiyo said.
Kenya’s Evaline Chirchir (1:06:01), Joan Chelimo (1:06:16), Vivian Kiplagat (1:06:38) and Fancy Chemutai (1:08:02) finished fourth, fifth, eighth and 10th, respectively.