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Kenya-born Mexico-based Leah Kigen yesterday successfully defended her title at the 33rd annual T&T International Marathon in a time of 3:01:13, while her countryman Hilary Kipchirchir Kimaiyo who resides in Mexico, emerged as the victor in the men’s division.
His time was 2:23:39, while Mark Kipkosgei Chepses, another native of Kenya secured the second spot recording a time of 2:24:09.
Kigen made any challenge to her title difficult. She established a 23-minute lead between her closest rival Karen Downey and the finish line. Downey recorded a time of 3:23:11.
Meanwhile, Kelvin Johnson of Guyana, competing in the half marathon, took home the men’s trophy in 1:15:17.
Was it not for Tonya Nero, however, T&T’s hopes of securing a medal would certainly have been dashed.
Competing in the half, she completed the race in 1:20:25, while second place Celine Lestrade was 15 minutes behind.
Except for Kigen, the TTIM proved a difficult course for the other three champions who admitted to feeling unwell mere hours before the start and during the competition.
They all said it was their faith in Almighty God that guided them during the competition.
Kigen said, “Last year, it was so competitive. The weather was not bad like today. In the morning it was raining. So that was a problem. It was very humid. I used to train two hours, three hour per day because I was preparing to come and run a good marathon in Trinidad. You play good to reach the destination because a marathon in not a near thing. You have to go so far. I want to encourage everybody, not only the youths, even grown ups, that running is for everybody, as far as you love it. You have to train, train hard and don’t lose hope and you’ll get what you are looking for at the end of your future. I was not an athlete, but I thank God for this.”
Kimaiyo said he learnt about the marathon on the internet and was interested even though he had never been to T&T before. He was on local soil three days before the competition and declared he liked it here.
Ahead of yesterday’s marathon, his best time was two hours and eight minutes, which he believed was negatively impacted by the uncomplimentary weather.
He said, “It was good for me to win. I will be back next year for this marathon. The course is very nice. It’s a very fast course. My next race is in Colombia. I am going to Mexico for preparation for another marathon. I want to see if I am going to break my record on the 2nd of March.”
He said the TTIM was a good barometer for him in preparation for his plans to compete in South America in about five weeks.
“I have been running (in) Europe, China, USA, (and) Brazil. Most of the time I win, because I train very hard! I used to have a coach, but since I moved to Mexico in 2007, I’ve been training alone. I am training myself. Sometime I get injuries. My friends fear my training. I train, very, very hard,” he said.
Guyanese-born Kelvin Johnson, winner of the half marathon admitted to feeling like a Trinidadian, citing his frequent travels here. He’s a member of the T&T Road Runners Club.
“I do most of my training in T&T. I am not a citizen or representing T&T. I am not really 100 per cent, but I am thankful that I came out there and be positive and run to my own pace and keep a momentum going that was good enough to pull off a victory,” he said.
After the first three miles, Johnson said he realised things were a bit slow and stepped up competition.
“By the time I reach like San Juan, I was comfortable. I just take it from there. The weather for was perfect!” he said.
Johnson said he had planned to use the half marathon as conditioning for similar meets this year, such as the 10K in Suriname this May.
Being employed in the construction sector made it difficult for him to set lofty goals, but he made it clear that his training, however, was designed to ensure he remained eligible to compete.
Yesterday’s marathon attracted participation from 60 visiting athletes from sixteen countries.
Half Marathon—Male Overall
1 1:15:17 KELVIN JOHNSON
2 1:17:23 LIONEL DANDRADE
3 1:17:58 ELVIS TURNER
4 1:20:05 KADE SOBERS
5 1:20:37 SHAYNE BARRAN
6 1:23:26 SHIRVAN BABOOLAL
7 1:23:47 AKIL MELVILLE
8 1:25:39 NEIL STEWART
9 1:26:32 OWEN HENDER
10 1:28:02 NELINHO MIEREZ
Half Marathon—Female Overall
1 1:20:25 TONYA NERO
2 1:35:04 CELINE LESTRADE
3 1:35:32 CHRISTINA LAURENT
4 1:37:29 LINDSAY MIES
5 1:43:29 SARAH OUELLETTE
6 1:47:14 SALINA SCOTT
7 1:47:51 DANIELLE GABAY
8 1:51:15 WENDY D’ARBASIE
9 1:52:50 SJAELAN EVANS
10 1:54:34 ELIZABETH MASSY
1 2:23:39 HILARY KIPCHIRCHIR KIMAI
2 2:24:09 MARK KIPKOSGEI CHEPSES
3 2:26:51 JUAN CARLOS CARDONA
4 2:27:39 PHILIP LAGAT
5 2:47:47 JEFFERSON RIVAS
6 2:55:54 CANTIUS THOMAS
7 2:56:34 DEXTER KAWHAI
8 3:01:11 GUILLERMO UDENHOUT
9 3:05:36 JUNIOR BRISTOL
10 3:08:47 CURTIS COX
1 3:01:13 LEAH KIGEN
2 3:23:11 KAREN DOWNEY
3 3:31:19 ARIETA MARTIN
4 3:50:08 WENDY SHALLOW
5 3:51:57 CHRISTINE REGIS
6 4:09:42 CHELSEA WHITLEY
7 4:09:52 ROSAMUND JOLLY
8 4:23:53 CANDICE BEKAROO
9 4:37:50 AMY PINE
10 4:59:23 SUSANNAH JOEFIELD