42 Year Old Mungara Wins Singapore Marathon
The dream life of Kenneth Mungara continues, with another marathon victory, this time in the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, Sunday morning. It was already unlikely that the 42 year old Kenyan would ever have to work behind a barber’s chair again. But another $50,000 prize ensures that; unless of course, he wants to open a chain, and show the youngsters how to do it.
That was pretty much the scenario on Sunday morning. Running against men up to 20 years younger, Mungara stayed with the group of a dozen East Africans for just 10 kilometres, before striking out by himself, and building up an unassailable lead, which had stretched to two and half minutes at the finish.
The expected hot and humid conditions that prevail in Singapore almost all year round inevitably kept the times slow, and although he said that he had set out at the 5am start (already 28C) with a will to break the course record of 2.11.25, set by compatriot Luke Kibet six years ago, Mungara came home in 2.16.42, with colleagues David Tarus and Charles Kanyao following in 2.19.07 and 2.19.18 respectively.
“I targeted the course record,” he said immediately afterwards. “But there was no one to help me. I was hoping someone would come along and push me. I’m still happy, but not very happy. It was very hot, but there was no problem. Next time I hope we can get four or five guys together. Next time, I would do better. It’s my last race of the year, so now I can go home to celebrate, and enjoy Christmas”.
It was Mungara’s second victory in Singapore, four years after his first; but so successful has been his latterday career, that the native of Limuru, some 50 kilometres north-west of the capital, Nairobi, has now won nine of his 15 marathons since 2007, with three second places and a third, and boasts a best of 2.07.36 from Prague three years ago.
Mungara was only enticed into running in his mid-30s, by the young marathoners who would come to his salon for a shave. “I looked at those little guys, and thought, I can beat them. But they were really tough, so I couldn’t at first. I couldn’t even train with them. I trained by myself, and after a while I went to a half-marathon, but I had to drop out. But I saw my mistakes, and I learned”.
Waganesh Amare didn’t have time to make any mistakes in the women’s race. The young Ethiopian was only enlisted for the race at the last moment, as a replacement. Underlining a theory that you come down from altitude either several days or none before a race, Waganesh only turned up the night before, barely slept, due to the 5am start, then coped with everything the well-matched field threw at her, before running away from her last rivals after 39 kilometres. She quickly did she accelerate over the final three kilometres that she won by close to a minute, in 2.46.54, with Kenyans Elizabeth Chemweno and Pauline Wanganui second and third respectively, in 2.47.50 and 2.4859. “I wasn’t expecting it be this hot,” said Waganesh, via top-class interpreter, Haile Gebrselassie, “so that’s why I waited so late to make a move to win”.
As for Geb himself, he simply wasn’t expecting the competition to be so hot. He had spent the majority of the two previous days, fulfilling speaking and coaching engagements, and thought he might get an easy ride in the 10 kilometres. But Solomon Keter had other ideas. Fresh from a personal best of 29.04, for a Hong Kong all-comers record one week earlier, and fully acclimatised to the region, Keter ran away from his Kenyan colleague, Thomas Maritim, and Gebrselassie in the final stages of the race, at which point temperatures had topped 30C (86F).
“That’s the worst humidity I’ve ever experienced” said Gebrselassie. “I came here to enjoy myself, I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t expect the Kenyans. Next year, I’ll come just to run, and I’ll be prepared”.
|10||Kennedy KIPROO LILAN||KEN||2:27:25|
|6||Jane J KIPTOO||KEN||2:51:48|