It was a double Kenyan celebration in the sixth Brighton Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label race, as Duncan Maiyo, 24, smashed his personal best to win in 2:10:15 while on the women’s side it was a fine debut over the distance for Pannina Wanjiru who broke the tape in 2:34:24.
The men’s winning time represents an improvement of more than 1min 30sec for Maiyo over his previous best from 2012 when he recorded 2:11:47 in Nairobi.
“I enjoyed the race, but the first half was a bit too fast. I got carried away,” said the men’s winner who had never raced outside Kenya before.
“I wanted to prove my ability as a future number one and I feel that I have done that. Brighton is a good course and the crowd really lifted me.”
Second with a time of 2:11:52 was the winner from 2013 Dominic Kangor who was also runner up last year. Completing a Kenyan podium was Mutai Kipkemei on 2:14:41.
For most of the race it looked as though the course record of 2:09:25 was in danger as Maiyo punched well above his weight with constant surges. The half marathon point was ticked off at a lively 63:47, just under 2:08 tempo.
With Kangor on his shoulder, the eventual winner was constantly under threat but once the former champion had started to slip back and a gap opened the pace started to slow.
“At ten miles the wind started to affect us,” explained Kangor. “And that was when Duncan started to make his first break.”
In fact, the story of the race from miles ten to 20 was one of Maiyo attacking with Kangor and Kipkemei falling back before closing any gap that had opened.
Ominously it was Maiyo who was maintaining a steady pace with the other two having to vary their pace as they battled to stay with him.
After the race, Kangor was anything but downhearted despite being two minutes outside his best time: “Nevertheless I feel good and will be back here next here,” he promised.
Meanwhile the winner was celebrating his first triumph in his first race outside Kenya.
Wanjiru arrived in Brighton as a marathon debutante at the age of 30 but left as Brighton champion for the sixth edition of this event.
“It was very cold but I enjoyed it. Next time I hope to do much better,” said Wanjiru.
Runner up was Bahrain’s Asian Games bronze medallist from last year Lishan Dula in 2:34:56 with former Brighton champion, Eunice Kales, Kenya, third with 2:53:50.
Kales was clearly in some discomfort and later she revealed that she had been suffering from cramp from 10km onwards. It was a problem that had also affected her in Reading recently. Champion here two years ago, Kales missed most of last year through injury.
At the age of 30, Wanjiru has in her portfolio a half marathon time of 72:40 from Marugame eight years ago. Her 15:51:93 5000m time stems from the same year. She also has a 10000m best of 31:35.
The story of the women’s race was very much a carbon copy of the men’s with Wanjiru on course record pace until the 20 mile mark when the pace started to slip.
For the first eight miles Wanjiru, Dula and Kales were together but this was when Dula and Kales started to fall behind.
Despite her inexperience Wanjiru was maintaining a lively pace up front as she went through the half-way mark in 73:35 and was still within striking distance of the record at 20 miles but that was when the pace started to falter.