Dieudonne Disi wins in Delhi in 2007 (© AFP / Getty Images)
Lagos, NigeriaThe AFN/GLO International Half Marathon on Saturday 8 December saw more than 40,000 runners competing in humid conditions on the traffic jammed roads of Lagos.
The 6th edition of this race acquired a new title sponsor this year after a US$2 Million, five year contract was signed between AFN and the Globacom telecommunications network.
There was an elite field of 54 male and female elite athletes for yesterday's race with large squads of runners from Kenya and Ethiopia, and smaller groups from Cameroon, Eritrea, Ghana, Italy, Ivory Coast, Lithuania, New Zealand, Qatar, Tanzania….
After producing a stunning performance in Udine at the World Road Running Championships in October where he finished sixth in 59:32 (a personal best), Rwanda’s Dieudonne Disi, 29, yesterday won in Lagos ahead of a huge crew of Kenyans.
The race started very slowly and Disi was at the front of a lead pack of twelve from the fourth kilometre. In the 13th kilometre he broke away from his last remaining opponent Kenya’s Wilson Chebet and was never headed again, winning in 63:05.
Disi’s one regret was that, he didn’t break the race record of Tanzania’s Joseph Fabiano - 62:21 - established in 2004. At the eleventh kilometre point Disi had gestured to Chebet to set a faster pace but the Kenyan had declined the offer.
Disi, who won the Delhi Half Marathon on 28 October (60:43), was followed home in Lagos by Chebet who led a large posse of Kenyans. The victory brought Disi a prize of US$50,000.
“This is a very nice end of the season; winning his race is a very big Christmas gift for me,” said the Rwandan. “The race was very tough; I didn’t know that I could win.”
The winner was third last year - click here - behind Kenyans Francis Kibiwott and Solomon Busendich.
In the women's race, with the presence of Ethiopia’s Berhane Adere and Kenya’s Mary Keitany, a speedy race was awaited. The Ethiopian is a former World Half Marathon champion and also won the 2003 World 10,000m track title, while Keitany was second at the World Road Running Championships this year.
From the gun, a group of sixth women including the two favourites broke away led by the Kenyans Lineth Chepkurui and Pauline Wangi Ngigi. They ran closely together until the 8th kilometre at which point Chepkurui, took the lead of the group and in forcing the pace Adere was dropped (finished fifth). The 19-year-old Chepkurui, who won the Philadelphia Half marathon in 2006 (PB 70:09), went on to take the honours very comfortably in 72:06. Her reward was $50,000.
The fight for second was very strong between Irene Kipchumba and Keitany with the latter carving out a 11 seconds margin by the finish for the runner’s up spot (75:10 to 75:21).
“I was expecting a victory but the others girls were very tough, then I just tried to follow the (lead) motorbike and waited for my time to take the win.”
Louisette Thobi for the IAAF
1. Dieudonné Disi (Rwa) 63:05
2.Wilson Chebet (Ken) 63:18
3. Festus Langat (Ken) 63:28
4. Wilson kebenei (Ken) 64:34
5. Duncan Kibet (Ken) 65:10
1. Linet chepkirui (Ken) 72:06
2. Mary Keitany (Ken) 75:10
3. Irene Kipchimba (Ken) 75:21
4. Pauline Wangui (Ken) 82:34
5. Berhane Adere (Eth) 85:38