ATHLETICS: Kenyans dominate at Asics Belfast half marathon

1st palce Gideon Kimosop (C), 2nd place Dan Tanui(L) and 3rd place Paddy Hamilton(R)
1st palce Gideon Kimosop (C), 2nd place Dan Tanui(L) and 3rd place Paddy Hamilton(R)

It was Kenya all the way as the mighty East Africans smashed the records at the third Asics Belfast Half Marathon which started and finished at Ormeau Park on Sunday.

Gideon Kimosop and Dan Tanui took the top two positions in the Mens race with Mercy Jemutai and Roisina Gibionia doing the same in the Ladies. All are members of the Project Africa team coached by Omagh man Ciaran Collins.

As the 3,500 strong field started in excellent conditions it was Kimosop, second in the Belfast Marathon, and Tanui who moved to the front.

They blasted through two miles with only Paddy Hamilton and Brendan Teer able to go with them.

By half distance it was the Kenyans side by side in 32:48 with Hamilton and Teer over a minute behind and records now definitely in sight.

The pace increased in the second half of the race. Kimosop was favourite and looked very determined as they came back to Ormeau Park but Tanui refused to bow to his more experienced team mate and was still alongside.

The pair unleashed a blistering sprint in the finishing straight. Kimosop just got the verdict although the time keepers were unable to separate them.

The time of 64:24 took more than two minutes from the fastest ever in this event. Hamilton, suffering from stomach cramps came third ahead of Teer with Mark McKinstry and Declan Power next.

The winner was delighted and said: “That was fantastic. This was a personal best for me which was great. I will be running the Dublin Marathon next month.”.

Mercy Jemutai and Roisina Gibionia went straight into the lead from the start of the Ladies and came through half distance together well ahead of the rest.

Jemutai opened a small advantage in the later stages and crossed the line in 73:36 with only eight men ahead of her. Gibionia was 21 seconds behind with both well under the previous fastest time.

Olympic marathon runner Catroina Jennings of Rathfarnham was an isolated third with Laura Graham, defending champion Gladys Ganiel and Maeve Lavery completing the top six.

The benefitting charity was Marie Curie NI.

Karen Alexander scored a good victory in the Dublin Half Marathon at Phoenix Park on Saturday. The Acorns runner came in sixteen seconds before Aine O’Reilly. The Mens race was won by Eoin O’Callaghan. There were 6701 finishers.

Rachel Gibson had a narrow victory over Cathy McCourt in the Boom 10K Race promoted by the Springwell Club at Coleraine. Sonia Knox from the promoting club was third with the Mens race going to team mate Jonathan McKee.