Monday, July 5, 2010

Kariuki wins marathon but no record reports

THE tiny central Kenyan town of Limuru will be celebrating after James Mbugua Kariuki broke away to take his second marathon from as many starts yesterday.

Forced to work his way to the front without the aid of a pace-setter, the 23-year-old from the the tiny town about 50km northwest of the capital Nairobi, bolted home to finish 1.53 minutes clear of countryman Peter Kiprotich.

And with his parents at home, and dad out of work, Kariuki promised to deliver some relief by sharing his $10,000 winner's cheque.

"My father doesn't have a job, my mum or my brothers so I can give some small money to help go towards their job," said Kariuki, who won the Mombasa Marathon in 2:08.43 in May.

Halfway through the race, five runners were in the mix, sharing the workload as they chased the $20,000 bonus put forward to anyone who could break Brad Camp's 1989 race record.

With Kenyan Raphael Njenga Njunge and Tanzanian Oswald Revelian falling off the pace, the fight for line honours became a three-horse race.

Despite his big winning margin, the race was a lot tighter with Kariuki, Kiprotich and eventual third placegetter Ben Kipruto Chebet fighting neck and neck for the opening 35km.

But 5km from home, Kariuki kicked, delivering a punishing blow to Kiprotich and Chebet, who could not respond.

Far from impressed with his winning time of 2:13.53, Kariuki said things were made tough from the outset, with the cool conditions and no pace-setter forcing the leaders to work for themselves.

"This is my second marathon I have done ... because the weather is very tough, my time is not very good," he said.

"This race also didn't have pace-maker, the pace-maker is good to push the (runners) but I'm happy with the end result."

For Kiprotich, he shared similar views to Kariuki, saying without the pace-setter their job was made so much harder.

And if there is one athlete who undertsands the value of a pace-setter it is the 31-year-old, who kept the speed for Ethiopian long distance great Haile Gebrselassie when he set a marathon world record of 2:03:59 in Berlin in 2007.

"I didn't have anyone to push, so we had to push ourselves," he said.

"The pace-maker sets the speed time, so I could have gone a lot faster but I'm quite happy because this is my fastest time in six months."

JAPANESE pocket rocket Kaori Yoshida has vowed to return and break the Gold Coast Airport Marathon race record after an emphatic win in the women's marathon.

Yoshida, who won the 2006 Hokkaido Marathon and hopes to compete at the 2012 London Olympics, flew home in of 2hr 31min 33sec -- which is the second fastest time in the history of the event.

The record is held by Japan's Eriko Asai, who set the time of 2:29:29 all the way back in 1993.

Yoshida used some of the male runners to keep pace for her and she was well and truly on course for the record at the 30km point.

It wasn't until 10km to go when she dropped away after starting to feel off colour.

"I am very, very happy," she said through a translator.

"I was aiming to break the record but towards the end I was feeling a bit light headed so I just wanted to finish in a good time.

"Next year I want to come back and try and break the record."

The women's marathon was certainly dominated by the land of the rising sun with the top three placegetters all from Japan.

Yoshida finished ahead of Chiharu Matsuo (2:36:53) and Mayumi Fujita (2:39:10).

But Matsuo admitted she was no match for Yoshida despite setting a personal best time on the day.

"The first half of the race I concentrated on trying to keep up with Kaori but for the rest of it I just concentrated on running at the pace I can run," she said.

"About 12km in to the race, Kaori broke away.

"But I ran my best time so I'm happy."

Fujita's third-placed time of 2:39:10 was 10 minutes outside her personal best.

"Unfortunately I couldn't run as well as I wanted to," she lamented.

The Japanese dominance of the event was not lost on the top three, who were thrilled they were able to share the moment together.

Yoshida, 28, said there was a reason the Japanese contingent perform so well at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon.

"We support each other, encourage each other and at the start we cheer each other on to keep going," she said.

"I think that team aspect is very helpful and helps us do well."