After staying out for four years owing to a knee injury, Sammy Kirui on Sunday bounced back in style, setting an unofficial course record in winning Family Bank Half Marathon in Eldoret town.
Kirui lowered Mathew Kisorio’s mark of one hour, three minutes and 17 seconds to punch a new time of 62.41 in the ninth edition of the race that is traditionally staged in Eldoret, the country’s ‘mecca’ of athletics.
The race also saw up and coming athlete Caroline Jepchirchir win a highly competitive women’s race in 74.01 minutes, improving her second position from Chemususu Half Marathon a fortnight ago.
And heavily delighted after learning he had penned a new course record in his win, soft-spoken Kirui said the victory wipes away the upsets he endured in his injury streak.
He picked up the injury while competing at Conpenburg Marathon in 2011.
“I am very happy now. Please allow me to deliver the good news to my family first,” Kirui said, requesting a time out in an interview with the Daily Nation Sport to make a call.
“I was so worried about this injury but things are now looking good for me, again. I can train well and get back to my initial form,” said Kirui, who trains at Strawbag on the Elgeyo Marakwet - Uasin Gishu County border.
Kirui said the cold conditions and the mild sun heat heavily contributed to his win, adding that the factors married well with those back in his Kaptagat training grounds.
Geoffrey Kipyego, who was leading the men’s nine man pack until the last four kilometres, managed second place in 63.07, and Robert Kipkorir third in 63.26.
Women’s race winner Jepchirchir said her dream to win the forthcoming Nairobi Standard Marathon were promising thanks to the Eldoret win.
“Second place in Chemusu and winning a few days later comes as good incentive for my charges to do well in Standard Chartered. I am very happy,” she said.
Betty Lembus settled for second place in 74.03 ahead of Pittsburg Half Marathon course record holder Sophy Jepchirchir who clocked 74.20.
Jepchirchir (Sophy), who cut her teeth in many years in cross country running before shifting to the road in 2013, said she entered the race not keen on winning but rather to gain endurance for her debut at Toronto Half Marathon on October 18.
Agnes Jepkosgei who has two titles of Kass Marathon also competed in Eldoret finishing seventh. The Kapsabet-based and Marakwet- born athlete is preparing for Singapore Marathon in December.
1.Sammy Kirui (62.41) 2. Geoffrey Kipyego (63.07) 3. Robert Kipkorir (63.26) 4. Barnabas Kosgei (63.27) 5. Amos Kiplagat (63.36) 6. Elkanah Arusei (63.37) 7. Willy Lukanga (63.42) 8. Kirui Chesang (63.49) 9. Douglas Kimeli (63.59) 10. Philip Kiprono (64.01)
1. Caroline Jepchirchir (74.01) 2. Betty Lembus (74.03) 3. Sophy Jepchirchir (74.20) 4. Rose Jepchumba (74.34) 5.Peris Jerono (74.43) 6. Janet Masai (75.03) 7. Agnes Jepkosgei (75.24) 8.Sylvia Kibiego (75.30) 9. Sheila Jerotich (75.33) 10. Ruth Matebo (75.35).
Additional reporting by Vincent Omito.