Kenyan men's squad celebrate their victory in Chiba (Hasse Sjögren) © Copyright
General News 23 November 2005 – Chiba, Japan

Kenyan men win in Chiba with World’s fastest ever time

Chiba, JapanThe men’s and women’s squads from Kenya dominated today’s Chiba Ekiden, with the former running the fastest ever time surpassing* the World Road Relay record clocking of Morocco (1:57:56 – 1994), by a full 50 seconds for the full marathon distance of 42.195km. For the first time this year the Chiba race was divided up into the standard six relay stages of 5km, 10km, 5km, 10km, 5km and 7.195km which are used for record purposes. 

Both men and women's races were very much decided in the 10Km second stage, with the Kenyans never threatened thereafter.

In the men's race, it was Martin Mathathi, who put the Kenyan team in the commanding lead. Mathathi, who runs for Suzuki Motors and was fifth at 10,000m in Helsinki, covered the 10Km in 27:12, forty seconds faster than Japan’s Yuki Sato. More importantly, Mathathi was 51 seconds faster than Abebe Dinkesa of Ethiopia. The combination of Dinkesa having a bad day (28:03) and Mathathi running the way he was suppose to, led to the Ethiopian downfall.

In the women's race it was Evelyn Wambui, who pulled into the lead in the second stage.  Wambui, who runs for Yutaka Technology, covered the 10Km in 31:18, 23 seconds faster than Britain’s Paula Radcliffe.  . 


First Stage (5km) - Josephat Ndambiri of Kenya took the lead immediately and by the time the runners left the stadium, he was 20m ahead of a chasing pack.  However, he was unable to pull away for good.  About 3.5Km into the first stage Ryan Hall of the US team and Gabo Burka of Ethiopia caught Ndambiri.  The three ran together until Burka and Hall pulled ahead of Ndambiri at the end of the stage one. Ndambiri, however, was only two seconds behind the Ethiopian, who covered the distance in 13:22.  Hall had the same time as the Ethiopian.

Second Stage (10km) - Martin Mathathi and Abebe Dinkesa ran together in the early stage of the race.  It was Mathathi, who led most of the time but apparently did not like Dinkesa following too closely, for he weaved around a lot.  Mathathi surged away at 5.7Km, a move that the Ethiopian could not cover. By the end of the stage, Kenya was 49 seconds ahead of Ethiopia, while Japan thanks to a great effort by Yuki Sato finished only one second behind Ethiopia in third. 

Third Stage (5km) - Although Daniel Mwangi of KEN continued to lead for KEN, Tariku Bekele, younger brother of Kenenisa closed the gap to 37 seconds. Ian Dobson of the USA followed 11 seconds behind in third place. With everyone on the team running to their potential, the USA was running well. 

Fourth Stage (10km) - Mekubo Mogusu of Kenya extended his team’s lead and by 2.6Km into the fourth stage, both Japan and the USA passed the struggling Ethiopian team, and by the end Kenyan led them by 1:20, while Ethiopia was two minutes 16 seconds behind the Kenyans in fourth. 

Fifth Stage (5km) - Markos Genetti of Ethiopia with a 14:02 clocking ran the best stage cutting the Kenyans lead over his team to 1:42, while Japan and the US continued to run side by side. 

Six Stage (7.195km) - In the final stage, John Kariuki of Kenya once again extended the Kenyans' lead, while Otsubo of Japan pulled ahead of USA’s Josh Moen at 5Km. 

Kenya won in 1:57:06, a minute and 52 seconds ahead of Japan, while the USA followed 10 seconds adrift, with Asian and North American records falling on the heels of Kenya's World record*. Russia in fourth also broke the European record with 2:02:34.

Winning secret – “all being in shape”!!!

"After finishing second last year in Chiba Ekiden, we started to plan for this year," said Kenyan team leader John Oyondi. When asked if the ekiden experience was beneficial to their victory, Philip Mosima, who was a reserve for the team said, "I don't think so. The most important factor was that we were all in shape. If you are not in shape, any amount of ekiden knowledge would not help."  The Kenyans put their best runners in the opening two stages, and their tactics worked well as the lead they established was never challenged.


First Stage (5km) - Gelete Burika of Ethiopia stayed close to the quickest runner Ongori Philes of Kenya (14:47) throughout.

Second stage (10km) - Evelyn Wambui of KEN slowly pulled away from Darebe Alem of Ethiopia, putting her team in commanding lead. Wambui recorded 31:18.  "Yes, I did expect to run 31:18,” confirmed Wambui. “I was shooting for that kind of time. The 10km is a somewhat unfamiliar distance for me, because I have never run the 10,000m on track." 

Britain’s Paula Radcliffe, the World Marathon champion, started the second stage in ninth place but with her 31:41 10Km leg moved her team up to 4th position overall. "I was hoping to put the team in third place, ahead of Russia,” said Radcliffe. “But I have overestimated my current form and started little too fast.  15:10 for the first 5Km was little too fast, even though it was slightly downhill. I wanted to catch the Russians.  I did get close at one point, but then I slowed from 6Km to 8Km and the Russians pulled ahead again.”

Third stage (5km) - by the end of the stage Ethiopia via the running of Sentayehu  Ejigu had closed the Kenyans lead to 33 seconds.

Fourth stage (10km) - Catherine Ndereba was able to pull Kenya away just a little further.

Fifth and Six stages (5km and 7.195km) - The script was a simple one, with Kenya and Ethiopia taking it in turns to extend or close the gap between them. Meselech Melkamu’s 15:59 5km leg held out some promise for the defending champions but it was not to be built upon with Kenya finishing in 2:13:33, 43 seconds ahead of Ethiopia, while Russian was another 32 seconds behind in third with Maria Konovalova (22:46) the quickest runner on the final leg.

Ken Nakamura for the IAAF

*subject to ratification

Weather (at the start): 16.9C, 55% humidity

1. KEN 1:57:06
2. JPN 1:58:58
3. USA 1:59:08
4. ETH 1:59:53
5. RUS 2:02:34
6. MAR 2:03:23
7. GBR 2:03:57
8. BRA 2:04:09

Stage 1  5Km  Gabo Burka (ETH)  13:22
Stage 2  10Km  Marthin Mathathi (KEN)  27:12
Stage 3  5Km  Ian Dobson (USA)   13:46
Stage 4  10Km  Mekubo Mogusu (KEN)  27:56
Stage 5  5Km  Markos Genetti (ETH)  14:02
Stage 6  7.195Km John Kariuki (KEN)  19:59

1.  KEN 2:13:33
2.  ETH 2:14:16
3.  RUS 2:14:48
4.  JPN  2:16:43
5.  CHN 2:19:26
6.  Chiba-A 2:20:44
7.  GBR 2:22:30
8.  Chiba -B 2:22:57
9.  USA 2:23:50

Stage 1  5Km  Ongori Philes (KEN)  14:47
Stage 2  10Km  Evelyn Wambui (KEN)  31:18
Stage 3  5Km  Sentayehu Ejigu (ETH)  15:29
Stage 4  10Km  Tomoko Ishii (JPN)  32:19
Stage 5  5Km  Meselech Melkamu (ETH) 15:59
Stage 6  7.195Km Maria Konovalova (RUS) 22:46