Veteran Malot defies age to finish second in Nairobi Marathon

Oct 31, 2010

Over its seven year’s of existence the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon has developed into an annual race full of surprises.

Ran at a high altitude of 1680, the marathon has become a hard act to repeat for all previous winners until 2009 when Jerotich Irene broke the jinx with a repeat performance of her 2006 triumph.

2009 also saw new course records being set in the both the men and women’s full marathon. Jerotich’s time of 2:28:57 was 4minutes and 56 seconds faster than the previous mark while Moses Kigen’s time of 2:10:12 slashed off 18 seconds from the old record.

But this year’s big story is somewhat different - a story of endurance and longevity.

Veteran female runner Leah Malot broke all the rules in the book by defying all odds in the capital’s scorching heat to finish second just 2 minutes 30 seconds behind eventual winner Hellena Kiprop who posted a time of 02:31:11.

Amazingly, the 38-year-old runner managed to match Kiprop’s pace stride for stride until the final 5km where the latter surged forward with a final burst of energy to cross the line first.

A household name in Kenya, Malot began here running career way back in 1987 at the All Africa Games as a 15-year old. Over the year’s Malot has participated and posted victories in numerous IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

However, the 1987 and 2000 World Championships ended in heartbreaks for Malot in her 10 000m specialty race.

This is Malot’s best finish in the full marathon after 6th place finish at the 2008 Frankfurt Marathon. 2009 was a busy year for Malot as she ran the Paris, Berlin and Singapore marathons where she placed 7th, 6th and 5th respectively.

She intends to keep going in the 42km race. “This is such a big achievement for me. Kiprop was stronger than me in the final kilometers and I couldn’t keep with her pace,” she said. “I still have the energy to run more races and perhaps post a few more victories before I hang my running boots.”

In the men’s full marathon, David Tumo Barmasai crossed the finish first in 02:10:31. Barmasai’s time was just 0.19 seconds shy of Kigen’s course record. In second place was Philemon Gitia (02:11:11) followed by Vincent Kiplagat Sittuk (02:12:09).

Barmasai attributed his win on his first attempt at the full marathon,to a good strategy on his part, which was to break away from the bunched pack of some six runners in the final stages of the race.

“I saw everyone was running close and nobody new who the other was and what they could do. But I kept my own composure and I had a chance of surprising them.”

Moses Odhiambo clocked 1:03.30 to win the men’s Wheelchair race while Mohammed Asia won the women in 1:18.42.


Steven Omondi

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