Isabella Ochichi and Shadrack Kemboi achieved a Kenyan double at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, winning the women’s and men’s contests respectively at the IAAF Silver Label Road Race on Sunday (20).
On a day when humidity was between 70-80%, Ochichi recorded a personal best of 2:30:20 to take 37 seconds off the course record set last year by Meseret Biru.
Kemboi, who finished fourth in this race last year, made it to the top of the podium this time with a winning performance of 2:11:41.
Ochichi had Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba for company in the first half, which was covered in 1:14:22, well inside course record pace.
Chumba then began to fade, leaving Ochichi to run alongside some male athletes as she completed the race in 2:30:20.
It took more than a minute from the 2:31:38 PB she set on her marathon debut in Amsterdam. It was also her first marathon victory after finishing fourth in Amsterdam in 2013 and third in Honolulu in 2014.
“I always wanted a marathon victory,” said Ochichi, the 2004 Olympic 5000m silver medallist. “I thought that it would come in Honolulu in 2014, but I got it today on my home continent – Africa – and I couldn’t be happier.”
Chumba finished second in 2:33:12 and Jemila Shure from Ethiopia was third in 2:37:52.
After an hour and a half of running in the men’s race, a group of nine athletes were still together. South Africa’s Lungile Gongqa was the first to try to make a break, but he was reeled back in after a few minutes. Nevertheless, his injection of pace helped to break up the leading pack.
Just a few minutes later, Kemboi was the next to make a move. He hit the front and soon opened up a gap on the field, one which grew until the finish line.
Within a matter of moments, he was away and clear out in front and he eventually crossed the line in 2:11:41. After a 1:07:01 first half, the second half was significantly quicker with Kemboi covering the final 13.1 miles in 1:04:40.
All three of his marathon victories to date have all been on South African soil, having won in Soweto in 2012 and Johannesburg in 2013.
Gongqa was second in 2:11:59 with fellow South African Michael Mazibuko taking third in 2:12:29. Kenya’s Peter Kamais was fourth in 2:14:08 while Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi was ninth in 2:16:33. Former New York Marathon champion Hendrick Ramaala was 10th in 2:17:12.
In only its second year, the race boasted a mass field of 5728 with entrants from the USA, Germany, UK, Sweden, Canada, Ethiopia, Namibia, Zambia and Japan.
“We are delighted with these performances,” said race ambassador Elana Meyer, the 1992 Olympic 10,000m silver medallist. “African runners are being given an opportunity to compete at the highest level without travelling to Europe or the United States, and this was one of our goals when the race was relaunched last year.”
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