Hong Kong Winner Barnabas Kiptum Was So Far Ahead Rivals Never Saw Him

Feb 18 - by SPN Correspondent for SportPesa News

Ethiopia's Dawit Wolde thought he had won only to find out Kenyan had taken the race in a new course record of 2:09:21

Kenya’s Barnabus Kiptum breaks the record for the men’s marathon in Hong Kong. PHOTO/Nora Tam/South China Morning Post

  • After finishing third in last year’s race, 32-year-old Kiptum was out of sight and out of mind as he blazed to a new course record
  • Wolde finished with a time of 02:11:11, just one second ahead of countryman Tsegaye Getachew Tadese and three seconds ahead of Kenyan Joel Kemboi Kimurer
  • It was the first time in Hong Kong for the women’s champion – Volha Mazuronak of Belarus – who finished nearly four minutes ahead of her closest rival in a time of 2:26:13

HONG KONG, Hong Kong- Kenyan Barnabus Kiptum was so far ahead of the chasing pack in Sunday’s Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon that runner-up Dawit Wolde of Ethiopia thought he had won.

After finishing third in last year’s race, 32-year-old Kiptum was out of sight and out of mind as he blazed to a new course record.

The Kenyan said it felt “amazing” to win such a prestigious race in an “iconic” city like Hong Kong.

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“I’m so happy,” said Kiptum. “Hong Kong is one of my favourite places, full of good people. The race had so many [people watching] and this is how races, competitions, should be.

“I had so much fun and I hope I will be invited next year to defend my record.”

What makes Kiptum’s record of 2:09:21 even more impressive is that he was able to achieve it despite rain, wind and humidity.

“I actually thought the weather was better than last year, when it was very hot,” he said. “If you want to be a champion runner, you have to be ready for any kind of weather.”

Kiptum beat the previous record of 2:10:31 set in 2017 by Ethiopian Melaku Belachew and he claimed a US$10,000 bonus for beating a 2:09:30 target set by organisers.

He takes home US$65,000 (HK$510,123) in prize money for his efforts, the most he has ever won in his career. But he insisted that he was more pleased with the result.

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Good runners

“I always just want to be number one, and to finish ahead of all these good runners, I am just so happy,” said Kiptum, who was surprised at how dominant his performance was.

In fact, he was so far ahead of his competitors that second-placed Wolde did not realise he had only finished second.

“I did not even know the Kenyan guy had won already,” said the 27-year-old Wolde, who hails from Ethiopia. “I only realised when they gave me a medal that said second place and I said ‘what is this?’ I thought I had won.”

Wolde finished with a time of 02:11:11, just one second ahead of countryman Tsegaye Getachew Tadese and three seconds ahead of Kenyan Joel Kemboi Kimurer.

“I thought the fight was between us three, and I thought I won the fight,” Wolde said.

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Thetrio take home US$30,000, US$15,000, and US$10,000 respectively – all decided by a few seconds’ difference.

“I am still happy with the result, and it’s not about the money, it’s the challenge,” said Wolde. “Last time I was here, I finished closer to 20th because I got injured. So I told myself, next time I come here I’m going to give a better performance.

“I’m glad the organisers invited me. It was a little later than I would have liked, but I am happy. Hopefully they invite me back next year and I can win. My dream is to win this race.”

It was the first time in Hong Kong for the women’s champion – Volha Mazuronak of Belarus – who finished nearly four minutes ahead of her closest rival in a time of 2:26:13.

Mazuronak also smashed the women’s record of 2:29:37 set by Ethiopia’s Gulume Tollesa last year and also claimed the US$10,000 bonus for finishing under 2:28:00.

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“I feel really tired. It was a very different course from what I’m used to,” said Mazuronak. “It was very challenging because of the humid air and strong wind, but I am very happy because today I was victorious.

“I really like Hong Kong,” she added. “The food is very good.”

Mazuronak, 29, has a long-distance pedigree, with a best of 2:23.54, a victory in the European women’s marathon in Berlin last year in 2:26.22, and a fourth place in the 2016 London Marathon among her achievements.

Kenya’s Eunice Chebichi Chumba finished second in 2:30:01, and Ethiopia’s Jemila Wortesa came third in 02:32:06.

-Report by South China Morning Post