Back with a bang

Philes Ongori breasts the tape to win the Safaricom Kisii Half Marathon /ANGWENYI GICHANA
Philes Ongori breasts the tape to win the Safaricom Kisii Half Marathon /ANGWENYI GICHANA

Former Rotterdam Marathon champion Philes Ongori made a winning return when she clinched the title at the 8th edition of the Safaricom Kisii Half Marathon yesterday.

Ongori 31, has been on maternity leave for the last two years taking care of her twins, Queen Blessing and Princess Joseph.

She won the race, which started and finished at Gusii Stadium, in 1:16:05 beating Joy Kemuma to second in 1:16:06 while Teresiah Omosa came third in 1:17:12.

“It was a very tough race. I did not expect it to be like that but I’m happy I have made a winning return,” said Ongori who was using the race to test herself ahead of the Saitama International Women’s Marathon to be held in Japan on November 12.

Ongori, who dedicated the win to her twins, added: “The hilly and flat sections of the course are okay but the weather was too humid. All in all, it was a good race.”

She went home with Sh100, 000 and Sh15, 000 as the fist local runner to cross the finishing line. Kemuma was awarded Sh50, 000 for finishing second and Sh10, 000 for being the second local runner to finish the race.

Lorna Nyabochoa (1:19:56), Doris Monda (1:22:03) and Yunes Onyancha (1:83:16) completed the top six slots.

In the men’s category, Joseph Koech of Keroka Athletics Club emerged victorious after beating pre-race favourite Edwin Mokua to second.

He won in 1:04:39 with Mokua returning 1:05:18. The last podium place was clinched by Kipyegon Letich of Keringet, who timed 1:05:28.

“I’m happy after winning my first half marathon. The weather was humid but I’m happy I won,” said the 21 year old.

“My focus now is on the Athletics Kenya weekend meetings which start in November.” He went home with Sh100, 000 winning prize while Mokua received Sh50, 000 and an additional Sh15, 000 after emerging the first local runner to cross the line.

Mokua, formerly based in Japan said: “It was not my day because the weather was terrible. It’s an inspiration to continue training harder because success does not come easy.”

Evans Mayaka was fourth in 1:05:34 ahead of Joel Meli (1:05:36) and Dennis Koech (1:05:41).

Another pre-race favourite, former Kisumu marathon winner De Clerk Omari was relegated to a disappointing 9th place in a time of 1:06:50.

On the sidelines of the marathon, over 1, 000 Kisii residents benefited from a free medical camp organized by Safaricom and DMI.