News23 Nov 2006

Kenya dominate at Chiba Ekiden


Cyrus Njui brings home the men's victory for Kenya at the Chiba Ekiden 2006 (© Hasse Sjögren)

As expected the Kenyan teams in both the men’s and women’s races at today's 2006 Chiba International Ekiden, took emphatic victories.

The Kenyan men’s (Martin Mathathi, Gideon Ngatuny, Josephat Ndambiri, Sammy Korir, Mekubo Mogusu and Cyrus Njui) and women’s squads (Ongori Philes, Evelyne Kimwei, Selly Chepyego, Catherine Ndereba, Jane Wanjiku and Lucy Wangui) won respectively in 1:57:58 ahead of the hosts Japan, 2:00:01, and in 2:13:35 in front of Russia, 2:14:51.

Although the expectation of another World record was high for the Kenyan men’s team, they fell short by 52 seconds, while the Japanese men’s team who set the Asian record last year fell short of that mark by a minute and three seconds. USA came third in 2:01:56. Notably, while four teams broke two hours in 2005, this year only Kenya broke that magical barrier. 

The Russians were expected to challenge the Kenyan women’s team, but the expected duel never really materialized.  Although the Russians took the stage best in the final two stages, by then Kenya was too far ahead. Japan finished third 2:17:00.

MEN – how the race unfolded:

Stage 1 - After covering the first two Km in 2:46 and 2:41, Martin Mathathi increased the pace to 2:33 for the next km and broke away from the pack.  While Mathathi was running alone in the front, the chasing pack of JPN, AUS, USA and Japanese Collegiate team were fighting for the second place. Mathathi covered the 5Km in 13:13, while the next fastest runner, Yuichiro Ueno of the Japanese Collegiate team was 19 seconds behind. 

Stage 2 - In the 10Km second stage Gideon Ngatuny of Kenya increased the Kenyan’s lead. He started out very fast covering the first Km in 2:25, and then passed the half way (5Km) in 13:07.  He ran the 10Km second stage in incredible 26:51.  Last year Mathathi ran this stage in 27:12. Out of the chasing pack, Hideaki Date of Japan surged away in the last two Km to move into the second place.  After the second stage, 15Km into the race, Kenya (40:04) led Japan by a minute and 49 seconds, followed by Japan Collegiate team in another 17 seconds.  Australia was in fourth place followed by the USA, who was two minutes 32 seconds behind Kenya.  Last year, when the Kenyan team set the World record, they covered the first 15Km in 40:36, so the Kenyans were 32 seconds ahead of the World record pace. 

Stage 3 - In the 5Km third stage, Josephat Ndambiri of Kenya continued to run alone at front.  He covered the 5Km in 13:29.  Twenty Km into the race, Kenya (53:33) was two minutes 25 seconds ahead of the second place Japan.  The Japan Collegiate team was in third two minutes 52 seconds behind Kenya, while the USA was just behind them.  Nearing half way, the Kenya was now over one minute ahead of the record pace (54:35 at 20Km last year).

Stage 4 - However on the next stage, 10Km fourth stage, Sammy Korir, the second fastest marathon runner in history, could not deliver what the Kenyan team needed to continue on the record pace.  Passing the 5Km mid-point in 14:47, Korir took 29:46 for the 10Km.  The Kenya passed 30Km point at 1:23:19, and now 48 seconds behind the world record pace.  Meanwhile, with the 28:28 10Km stage by Atsushi Sato, Japan is now only a minute and seven seconds behind Kenya.  The USA was in third, two and a half minutes behind Kenya. 

Stage 5 - Mekubo Mogusu, who earlier this month ran brilliant anchor leg for his college team, covered the hilly 5Km fifth stage in the record 14:01.  At 35Km into the race Kenya (1:37:20) was mere 13 seconds behind the record pace.

Stage 6 - It was all up to Cyrus Njui in the sixth and the final stage to make up 13 seconds.  In order to set a record he had to cover the hilly 7.195Km stage in 19:46.  Unfortunately, Njui took 20:38 for the stage and fell short of the record.

WOMEN – how the race unfolded

Stage 1 - Ongori Philes of Kenya took the lead immediately after the start and started to break away from the pack around 2Km.  She covered the 5Km first stage in 15:11, nine seconds ahead of Noriko Matsuoka of Japan, who in turn was six seconds ahead of Liliya Shobukhova of Russia.  Last year, Philes covered the same stage in 14:47. 

Stage 2 - In the 10Km second stage, Evelyne Kimwei of Kenya extended the Kenya’s lead over the second place team.  Behind Kenya, six Km into the second stage Inga Abitova of Russia caught Madoka Ogi of Japan.  They ran together for the next two Km before Abitova pulled ahead.  Passing the half way, 5Km, in 15:20, Kimwei covered the 10Km in 31:20, 42 seconds faster than Mihaela Botezan of Romania.  The European 10,000m champion Abitova was another sixteen seconds behind.  Fifteen Km into the race, Kenya (46:31) was a minute and 13 seconds ahead of the second place Russia, who in turn was 14 seconds ahead of Japan.  The Romanian team was in fourth a minute 40 seconds behind the leader. 

Stage 3 - In the 5Km third stage, another Kenyan was the fastest runner in the stage.  Selly Chepyego covered the 5Km in 15:31.  Behind Kenya, Mizuho Nasukawa (15:50) of Japan slowly cut into Russia’s lead and at the end of the third stage she was only two seconds behind Olesya Syreva (16:02) of Russia.  Twenty Km into the race, Kenya (1:02:02) led by a minute and 44 seconds over Russia, while Japan was mere two seconds behind Russia. 

Stage 4 - In the 10Km fourth stage, Catherine Ndereba of Kenya continued to extend the lead over the Russian team.  She covered the 10Km in 32:02, while Lidia Grigoryeva took ten seconds longer for the distance.  After the fourth stage, Kenya (1:34:05) was a minute and 54 seconds ahead of Russia, who in turn was eleven seconds ahead of Japan. 

Stage 5 - Time was running out for the Russian team to make up the distance.  In the hilly 5Km fifth stage, Galina Bogomolova of Russia finally cut into the Kenyans lead, albeit only by six seconds. Bogomolova covered the 5Km in 16:16, while Jane Wanjiku of Kenya took 16:22 for the same stage. 

Stage 6 - In the 7.195Km sixth and the final stage, Russia made up further distance, but Kenya won by a minute and 16 seconds.  The winning time by Kenya, 2:13:35 was two seconds short of the time they recorded last year.  The Russian team in the second place was three seconds short of the time they recorded last year. 

Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Assisted by Akihiro Onishi 

Weather: Cloudy; temperature 14.6C, humidity 48%, wind from NNE 1.6m/s


1)  KEN  1:57:58
2)  JPN 2:00:01
3)  USA 2:01:56
4)  JPN College 2:02:03
5)  AUS 2:03:13
6)  RUS 2:03:58
7)  GBR 2:04:12
8)  SWE 2:05:53 

1)  KEN 2:13:35
2)  RUS 2:14:51
3)  JPN 2:17:00
4)  JPN College 2:18:44
5)  GBR  2:20:49
6)  CHN 2:22:44
7)  BLR 2:22:51
8)  Chiba 2:23:08
9)  ROM 2:23:17
10) USA 2:23:20

Best Stages (Men):
1 5Km  Martin Mathathi (KEN) 13:13
   Yuichiro Ueno (JPN College) 13:32
   Yuki Sato (JPN)  13:33
   Collis Birmingham (AUS) 13:33
   Ed Moran (USA)  13:34
2 10Km  Gideon Ngatuny (KEN) 26:51
   Hideaki Date (JPN)  28:20
   Evgeny Rybakov (RUS) 28:32
   Satoru Kitamura (JPN College) 28:38
   Lee Troop (AUS)  28:50
3 5Km   Josephat Ndambiri (KEN) 13:29
   Fasil Bizuneh (USA)  13:50
   Yoshinori Oda (JPN)  14:05
   Michael Shelley (AUS) 14:08
4 10Km  Atsushi Sato (JPN)  28:28
   Josh Moen (USA)  29:23
   Jon Brown (GBR)  29:27
   Makoto Fukui (JPN College) 29:39
   Sammy Korir (KEN)  29:46
5 5Km  Mekubo Mogusu (KEN) 14:01
   Hiroyuki Ono (JPN College) 14:44
   Patrick Tarpy (USA)  14:47
   Yury Abramov (RUS)  14:52
6 7.195Km Cyrus Njui (KEN)  20:38

Best Stage (Women)
1 5Km  Ongori Philes (KEN)  15:11
   NorikoMatsuoka (JPN) 15:20
   Liliya Shobukhova (RUS) 15:26
   Sian Edwards (GBR)  15:41
   Lisa Corrigan (AUS)  15:42
2 10Km  Evelyne Kimwei (KEN) 31:20
   Mihaela Botezan (ROM) 32:02
   Inga Abitova (RUS)  32:18
   Madoka Ogi (JPN)  32:38
   Eri Sato (JPN College) 32:43
3 5Km  Selly Chepyego (KEN) 15:31
   Mizuho Nasukawa (JPN) 15:50
   Olesya Syreva (RUS)  16:02
   Laura Kenney (GBR)  16:14
4 10Km  Catherine Ndereba (KEN) 32:02
   Lidia Grigoryeva (RUS) 32:13
   Yuri Kano (JPN)  32:22
   Noriko Higuchi (JPN College) 33:05
5 5Km  Galina Bogomolova (RUS) 16:16
   Jane Wanjiku (KEN)  16:22
   Helen Clitheroe (GBR) 16:28
   Ryoko Kizaki (JPN College) 16:42 
6 7.195Km Maria Konovalova (RUS) 22:36

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