Nelson Rotich and Janet Rono - Winners of Hong Kong Marathon
Picture 1 - Nelson Rotich winning the race with Julius, fellow Kenyan getting the second placing.
Janet Rono, 22, the Kenyan woman runner, ran the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon and broke the course record by a second (former record was 2hr 33min 43sec). She was also not one of the invited international runner to run the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon on Sunday morning. However, she wise and fortunate decision to spend a thousand dollars on a air ticket, and win the first prize of US$34000. Rono is deserving only of praise for her initiative in clocking 2.33.42, beating the mark set by Irina Bogacheva of Kyrgzstan in 2001. Second was the veteran Moroccan Samira Raif, in 2.33.51, and third was Bifa Yeshinabet Tadesse of Ethiopia, in 2.34.14.
Janet Rono’s previous best was 2.37.08. Hence, she found it hard to get an invitation to run overseas races. That shouldn’t be a problem for Rono from now on.
In the men's open marathon race, her colleague Julius Maisei took a similar chance. He was catching up with the race leader Nelson Rotich in the final two kilometres, and eventually caved in to give his compatriot’s 2.16.00 victory. While I was waiting for Ashley Liew and Lim Thow Wee and Anne Date, I saw the gap between Nelson Rotich and Julius Maisei at first to be more convincing. However, as the finish was nearing, I heard a gentle man telling me that Julius was quickly catching up. While Nelson was running towards the finish, he knew that the race was his and not Julius's. Around the last 800m Nelson did not show any form of panicking and still showed sign that he was in control and was confident in winning. That was evident at the last 50 metres when Nelson was running in a cool, calm and contented way. It was inspirational for me to see especially his composure in believing in himself and in not getting distracted by the opponent fast approaching towards the finish. If I was in his position, I may have panicked. It was that close to losing the first position to Julius. Julius was just 6 seconds away to snap Nelson's US $34000 reward by winning the race. Anyway, Maisei was able to net $15000 for the second placing, in 2.16.06. In third place was Tesfaye Girma Bekele of Ethiopia, in 2.16.31. The race was a very close one for any prediction to take place.
The weather was perfect and cool, except for the high humidity (80% to 90%) on that day and the rain showers made the road slick in places. At the start, the temperature was recorded to be around 13 - 16 degrees Centigrade. Rotich concurred, “ But this course is very hard, it’s the hardest marathon course I’ve run (out of 14 races), and today was slippery. Everyone was playing it safe, because of the road conditions. The field was still together at 37k (of 42), but I had made a couple of attempts to get away, and I could see no one was going to follow me, so I had a good idea I could win”. Rotich was kind enough and said some of it would go to the less fortunate runners in his training group, “so they can rent houses when they come to train with us, and buy food”.
Most of Rotich’s marathons have been in the Far East. For example, he has won marathons in Korea, Malaysia, The Philippines, India and Thailand. He is now aiming for Kuala Lumpur and Taipei for marathon races.
Note : The international prize is until 12 prizes for male and 5 prizes for female in terms of cash incentives. The officials cited that not much competition in the women open has made then to decide on this. However, there was equality shown as the prizes for men and women open for individual placing was the same for top 1 to 5.
1 Nelson Kirwa ROTICH KEN 2.16.00 34,000 (US$)
2Julius Kiplimo MAISEI KEN 2.16.06 15,000
3 Tesfaye Girma BEKELE ETH 2.16.31 6,500
4 Robert Kiplagat KOSEKEI KEN 2.16.53 3,600
5 Hammou MOUDOUJI MAR 2.16.55 1,800
6 Julius Kiprono MUTAI KEN 2.17.04 1,600
1 Janet Jelegat RONO KEN 2.33.42 34,000
2 Samira RAIF MAR 2.33.51 15,000
3 Bifa Yeshimabet TADESSE ETH 2.34.14 6,500
4 Negash Hadush LETAY ETH 2.35.35 3,600
5 CHENG Wenrong CHI 2.35.49 1,800
6 Rose CHESHIRE KEN 2.38.06 Nil