Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2016

Singapore Marathon: Slow time, but men's champion has big dreams

Clockwise from left: Felix Kiptoo Kirwa, 22, taking top honours in 2hr 17min 17sec, to be the 12th different Kenyan winner in the last 15 editions of the event. Compatriot Paul Kios Kangogo finished 3sec behind. Rebecca Kangogo Chesir won the women's
Rebecca Kangogo Chesir won the women’s race in 2:43:03.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
Clockwise from left: Felix Kiptoo Kirwa, 22, taking top honours in 2hr 17min 17sec, to be the 12th different Kenyan winner in the last 15 editions of the event. Compatriot Paul Kios Kangogo finished 3sec behind. Rebecca Kangogo Chesir won the women's
Mok Ying Ren was the fastest local man in 2:41:03.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Weather a challenge, says Kenyan winner Kirwa, whose ambition is an Olympic berth

Felix Kiptoo Kirwa knows all too well the feel of an Olympic medal. He has held a silver medal in his hand, marvelled at its five rings, admired its inscription, savoured the sensation of having it.

But then he had to give it back to its rightful owner, his sister Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa, 32.

So now the 22-year-old wants his own Olympic medal - and he knows that he needs to buck up if he wants to reach that rostrum.

Which was why there was hardly any celebration when the Kenyan runner won the men's 42.195km race at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) yesterday.

He has bigger dreams and yesterday's timing of 2hr 17min 17sec might have given him his biggest crown so far but it is not good enough to make him an Olympic prospect for his country. At the recent Rio Games, Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge won gold in 2:08:44.


Felix Kiptoo Kirwa, 22, taking top honours in 2hr 17min 17sec, to be the 12th different Kenyan winner in the last 15 editions of the event. Compatriot Paul Kios Kangogo finished 3sec behind. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Kirwa, who has three sisters and two brothers, said: "I'm planning to run in bigger races in the future, at places where it is not as hot as here, because I want to improve on my timing."

Kirwa's sister Eunice, who became a Bahrain citizen in 2013, won the silver medal in Rio, and she is the reigning Asian Games champion and also won the bronze medal at last year's world championships.

To emulate his sister, Kirwa is focused on lowering his personal best, which he said is about 2:14.

He said: "One day, I hope to join her (Eunice) to run at the Olympics. In fact, we trained together while I was young, and she has always encouraged me and helped me to become a better runner. She told me that I have to work very hard to make it to the Olympics."

Kirwa lives and trains in Kapsabet, a town 2,000m above sea level and located 300km north-west of Kenya's capital Nairobi. He explained that he ran a total of more than 50km every day for two months to prepare for the SCMS.

 

He won China's Tianjin Marathon in May but sees the race in tropical Singapore as a bigger triumph.

Kirwa, making his debut here, said: "I've never run in such hot weather before. But when I reached the 40km mark, that was when I knew that I would win the race."

His victory extended Kenya's stranglehold on the men's race as he became the 12th different Kenyan winner in 15 editions of Singapore's biggest running event since it was first held in 2002. This year's run drew a total of more than 46,000 participants over two days.

Given the East African nation's prowess in distance running, Rebecca Kangogo Chesir admitted she was surprised to outrun her compatriots to win the women's race. The Eldoret resident clocked 2:43:03 to finish more than a minute ahead of Yator Viola Jelagat (2:44:28).

That she celebrated her 24th birthday yesterday added to her delight of winning her fourth marathon and her first since 2014 at China's Hengshui Lake International Marathon.

  • THE MEDALLISTS

  • MEN'S OPEN

    1 Felix Kiptoo Kirwa (Ken) 2hr 17min 17sec

    2 Paul Kios Kangogo (Ken) 2:17:20

    3 David Kipkorir Rutoh (Ken) 2:17:32

    WOMEN'S OPEN

    1 Rebecca Kangogo Chesir (Ken) 2:43:03

    2 Yator Viola Jelagat (Ken) 2:44:28

    3 Peninah Jerop Arusei (Ken) 2:44:53

    SINGAPOREAN MEN

    1 Mok Ying Ren 2:41:03

    2 Ashley Liew 2:49:46

    3 Fang Jianyong 2:53:35

    SINGAPOREAN WOMEN

    1 Jasmine Goh 3:09:49

    2 Anne Qi Hui 3:14:24

    3 Rachel See 3:14:59

Said Chesir with a wide grin: "Right now, I just want to buy and eat a chocolate birthday cake.

"I didn't expect to win because there are so many Kenyans who are all capable of beating me. But I just pushed ahead by myself because I wanted to win this. I am happy to make up for my disappointment when I finished third in the Toronto Marathon (in October)."

Like Kirwa, she hopes her latest triumph will boost her chances of selection for major races, saying: "I hope that I can stand a better chance to go to the Boston, London or New York marathons now."

In the local category, Mok Ying Ren (2:41:03) was the top male Singaporean finisher for the seventh time, while Jasmine Goh was the top woman in 3:09:49.

Mok, who is a first-year resident in orthopaedic surgery at the National University Hospital, used yesterday's race as part of his preparation for the SEA Games next year.

The 2013 SEA Games champion said: "I was a bit worried going into the race because I didn't know the impact halving my training runs would have on my performance.

"My legs felt a bit of fatigue towards the end but it's expected. I felt good and I'm building towards qualifying for the SEA Games next year, sometime in March."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2016, with the headline 'Slow time, but men's champion has big dreams'. Print Edition | Subscribe