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News Archive

Singapore Marathon: run, cycle swim, ski?

The theory that Kenyan long distance runners could become Nordic skiers was

tried out at the last winter Olympics, and found to be little more than a

gimmick. After John Kelais win in the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon on

Sunday, we might have a long wait for the first world class Kenyan triathlete.

Kelai is already close to being a world-class duathlete - running and

cycling - and is trying to improve his swimming, to make up the triathlon set.

But his win in his second home of Singapore means that he may concentrate on

running. "Id really like to run one of the big European marathons next,

perhaps London," he said after his victory. Kelai, 26 is already unusual

in that he is one of the rare runners from the Turkana tribe, nomads from the

poor and arid northern part of Kenya. The most famous Turkana is Paul Ereng,

1988 Olympic 800 metres champion. "Paul used to be my coach," said

Kelai, who was discovered by a Singapore triathlon group in 2001, when they

were training in Eldoret, the heartland of Kenyan running.

Kelai now spends six months of the year in Singapore with Bob Bowness,

founder of the Tribob triathlon group. Members were much in evidence on the

marathon course on Sunday, wearing John Kelai Support Group tee-shirts.

"John has quickly taken to the bike and is within reach of duathlon

world-class times," said Bowness, "but after this run, he may be

better off concentrating on the marathon". Kelais first marathon was in

this same race last year, when he finished seventh. He won the Penang

International Marathon in neighbouring Malaysia in May, but all three of his

races have been in heat and high humidity, hence his 2hr 19min 02sec winning

time on Sunday.

Kelai earned US$20,000 for his win on Sunday, and says he and his wife Susan

will use it on the education of their two girls, Faith, aged three, and Karina,

just one month old.

Singapore Marathon Results

The Kenyan colonisation of the athletics world continues. John Kelai won in

his home town yesterday, when he took the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon

in 2hr 19min 02sec.

Kelai has been living on and off in Singapore for the last 18 months since

coming to the city-state to make his marathon debut - he was seventh in last

years race in 2.23.46.

Kelai tracked several of his Kenyan compatriots, who were early leaders in

the Sunday dawn race, before taking over after 37 kilometres, and winning by

180 metres from David Simukwo, 2.19.28, and Barnabas Kenduiywo, 2.20.35.

"At 32 kilometres, I felt so bad that I almost dropped out," said

Kelai, 26, "but I saw the leaders were struggling. At 35k I felt OK, and

put in an effort to catch them. I was a bit nervous of my Kenyan friends, but

it was an advantage to me to know the course so well". Unlike several of

his compatriots who have switched nationality recently, Kelai says he has no

plans to apply for Singapore nationality, but he has a solid training base here

with a triathlon group, and he recently placed fourth in a high class duathlon

(cycling and running) Kelai dedicated the victory to his month old daughter,

Karina. He has another daughter, Faith, aged three. Kelai said he would use the

US$20,000 prize money, "for the education of my children, and to improve

my living conditions in Kenya". He was formerly a farm-worker in Eldoret,

the heartland of Kenyan distance running.

The much-vaunted Tanzanians - 2002 Commonwealth winner, Francis Naali, and

1998 medallists, Simon Mrashani and Geway Suja - were never in evidence, after

complaining of difficulties adjusting to time difference and Singapores high

humidity which affects times.

Wang Yu of China was unconcerned in the womens race. The 19 year old from

Beijing led all the way in only her third marathon, to win in 2.43.51. The

Poles, Aniela Nikiel and Violeta Uryga were second and third, in 2.46.48 and

2.47.55 respectively.

STANDARD CHARTERED SINGAPORE MARATHON 2003

RESULTS

MEN

BIB NAME COUNTRY TIME PRIZE(US$)

1 84 JOHN KELAI KENYA 2.19.02 20,000

2 08 DAVID SIMUKWO KEN 2.19.28 12,000

3 10 BARNABAS KENDUIYWO (KEN) 2.20.35 7,000

4 46 ANURUDHA COORAY (SRI) 2.21.23 5,000

5 73 ABRAHAM TANDOI KEN 2.23.29 3,000

6 15 JOSEPHAT NDETI KEN 2.24.26 1,250

7 59 DAVID K MENJO KEN 2.24.47 1,250

8 70 SIMON SAWE KEN 2.25.42 800

9 50 ZHU RONGHUA CHINA 2.25.44 800

10 07 JOHN ROTICH KEN 2.26.32 800

WOMEN

1 67 WANG YU CHINA 2.43.57 20,000

2 20 ANIELA NIKIEL POL 2.46.48 12,000

3 18 VIOLETA URYGA POL 2.47.55 7,000

4 63 AI SUGIHARA JAP 2.48.14 5,000

5 21 NATALYA GALUSHKO BLS 2.52.45 3,000

6 26 LILIAN CHELIMO KEN 2.53.59 1,250

7 28 LARISSA MALIKOVA RUS 2.55.05 1,250

8 24 OLPHER ORUKE KEN 2.55.46 800

9 09 SUJEEWA NILMINI SRI 2.56.46 800

10 19 LYDIA VASSIELVSKAYA RUS 3.01.48 800

Pat Butcher

 

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