By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Kenya’s tradition in long-distance running asserted itself once more on Sunday, as athletes from the African country dominated the thirteenth Rio de Janeiro Half Marathon in both male and female categories.
The event, which took place on Sunday, September 6, attracted more than 17,000 athletes to the Rio de Janeiro beachfront, but only 4,601 of them completed the 21-kilometer course, which began at Praia do Pepê (Barra da Tijuca) and finished at the Aterro do Flamengo.
The course in Rio is considered to be one of the most beautiful half marathon routes in the world. Between the start and finish lines, the runners passed São Conrado, Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana and Botafogo beaches and finished with a view of Sugar Loaf. Despite the cloudy morning, the Rio de Janeiro landscape provided a great spectacle for the athletes and the cheering audience.
The male race was won by Kenyan Elias Chelimo Kemboi, who finished with a time of one hour, two minutes and fifteen seconds. Second place was claimed by Joshua Kiprugut Kemei, also from Kenya, who finished with a time of one hour, three minutes and 38 seconds. Brazil’s best result was Giomar Pereira da Silva in third place, who finished with a time of one hour, four minutes.
The female race was also won by Kenyans. Eunice Kirwa came in first, with a time of one hour, fourteen minutes and seven seconds, followed by Meseret Hailu Debele, with one hour, fourteen minutes and thirty seconds. Marily dos Santos was the best-placed Brazilian, finishing third, with a time of one hour, fourteen minutes and fifty seconds.
The Kenyan victories represent the end of a three-year drought for the African country in the Rio half marathon, as their athletes hadn’t won the race since 2005, when Biwott Kipkosquei was the winner.
Last year’s men’s half marathon was won by Brazilian Marilson dos Santos, who was unable to participate in this year’s race.