News20 Dec 2009

Teenager Ndiema surprises with Baringo Half Marathon victory


Eric Ndiema (159) leading Yusuf Songoka (092) and Vincent Kiplagat (198) at the Baringo Half Marathon (© David Macharia)

They say experience is the best teacher. This was proved right when Eric Ndiema, after training with big boys and knowing the route well, won this year’s edition of the Baringo Half Marathon on Sunday (20).

He won in 1:02:14 and in the process improved from the sixth position he attained last year. He was the only top ten finishers from last year who remained in that bracket this year.

The junior athlete who trains with polished runners including his close relative Solomon Busiendish, the Amsterdam Marathon winner in 2006, at Iten near Eldoret was able to withstand the early fast pace set by a group of 20 runners including the Nairobi marathon champion Moses Kigen.

By the 7th kilometre the leading group had been reduced to ten after Kigen and others fell behind.

By the 15th kilometre the battle had been reduced to six runners who kept exchanging the lead among themselves.

With two kilometres to go, the leading group had reduced much and it included Yusuf Songoka, Vincent Kiplagat, Peter Kirui and Gilbert Maasai who finished in 1:02:16.4, 1:02:18.0 and 1:02:25.2 for second, third and fourth positions respectively.

Ndiema took the lead and opened a five metres gap which he maintained to the end to take the title.

The Baringo Half Marathon, now in its fifth year, was founded by former Cross Country king Paul Tergat who is also the former World marathon record holder. This year’s event was attended by a galaxy of former top runners including Moses Tanui and Joshua Chelang’a. Catherine Ndereba was also in attendance.

The event’s future looks bright after it attracted sponsorship from two big corporate bodies, mobile phone provider Safaricom and the National Social Security Fund.

The race started in its usual place at Kabartonjo trading centre and follows a scenic view of the local hills with runners going through cool sections due to shadows of the forest and hot sun in the  sections of the route with less vegetation.

Agnes Kiprop successfully defended the 15km women race. She won in 51:08.6, slower than her 50:55 winning time last year.

Kiprop overcame a strong challenge by Sharon Cherop who finished second in 52:01.0. The two had battled in the latter stages of the race and at one time it looked like Cherop would emerge winner until Kiprop opened a gap near the hilly finishing point.

Cynthia Limo took the third position, 40 seconds behind. Joan Ayabei who was second last year finished sixth in 53:09.4.

David Macharia (Daily Nation) for the IAAF

Leading Results:
Half Marathon -
 1. Eric Ndiema       1:02:13.8
 2. Yusuf Songoka     1:02:16.4
 3. Vincent Kiplagat  1:02:18.0
 4. Peter Kirui       1:02:25.2
 5. Gilbert Maasai    1:02:39.0
 6. Eric Kibet        1:02:52.5
 7. John Kipkorir     1:02:58.7
 8. Albert Kangor     1:03:03.5
 9. Reuben Cherutich  1:03:09.0
10. Enock Mitei       1:03:29.4

15 km -
 1. Agnes Kiprop        51:08.6
 2. Sharon Cherop       52:01.0
 3. Cynthia Limo        52:43.7
 4. Joyce Chepkirui     52:54.1
 5. Pahana Chepkemboi   53:03.1
 6. Joan Ayabei         53:09.4
 7. Beatrice Toroitich  53:36.3
 8. Rose Chepsongoi     54:07.3
 9. Emmy Biwott         54:38.3
10. Mercy Jemutai       55:02.1
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