Felix Kiptoo Kirwa and fellow Kenyan Rebecca Kangogo Chesir took top honours at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday (4).
In what was expected to be a battle among experienced marathon runners, Kirwa waited until the closing stages to make his move and pull off a surprise victory.
With the start time having moved to 4:30am to avoid the highest temperatures of the day, the race started at a conservative pace as a large lead pack went through 5km in 16:05, 10km in 32:30 and 15km in 48:28.
Fifteen men – including Kirwa, two-time Singapore champion Kenneth Mungara, 2012 Singapore winner Kennedy Lilan – were still in contention as half way was reached in 1:09:24, making it clear that the course record of 2:11:25 would survive another year.
During the course of the following 10 kilometres, with 30km being passed in 1:39:00, the lead group had been whittled down to 10. The field continued to gradually reduce as the pace started to pick up during the closing stages.
Lilan was among the three men to drift off the pack before the 35km mark, leaving Kirwa, Mungara, Paul Kangogo, David Kipkorir, Robert Kiplimo and Luka Chelimo out in front. With just a few kilometres remaining, only Kangogo, Kirwa and Kipkorir remained in the lead pack and it became apparent that the race would go down to the wire.
Kirwa, brother of Olympic marathon silver medallist Eunice Kirwa, proved to have the strongest finish as he sprinted away from Kangogo to cross the line in 2:17:17, three seconds ahead of his compatriot. Kipkorir finished third in 2:17:32 while Mungara was fourth, a further minute behind the leading trio.
“I was not expecting to complete the run in this time as it is very hot and humid in Singapore,” said Kirwa after securing the 15th consecutive victory by a Kenyan man in Singapore. “Last year they finished in 2:17 and I was not sure I could do the same.”
Chesir wins comfortably
Unlike the men’s race, the women’s contest went to the formbook as pre-race favourite Rebecca Kangogo Chesir took a convincing victory in 2:43:03.
The elite women adopted a similarly cautious start, passing through 5km in 19:24 and 10km in 39:03 before Viola Jelagat led the 10-strong lead pack through the half-way point in 1:24:47.
Three women drifted off the lead pack within the following five kilometres, and the group was whittled down further by the 30km point as Chesir, Jelagat, Peninah Arusei and Jane Kiptoo were the only women remaining at the front.
Kiptoo was the next to suffer, but Chesir was still full of running and upped the pace again, dropping her two remaining challengers a few kilometres before the finish. She went on to win in 2:43:03 with Jelagat a distant second in 2:44:28. Arusei was third in 2:44:53.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF