Kenyan runners zipped past other participants in the Kinmen Marathon yesterday, coming first in both the men’s and women’s events and breaking records for the full marathon.
Samson Kiptoo Bungei completed the 42km run in 2 hours, 17 minutes and 44 seconds in the men’s division, while Emily Chepkemoi Samoei captured the women’s title by finishing the race in 2 hours, 39 minutes and 10 seconds.
In the half-marathon races, Taiwan’s Ho Chin-ping (何盡平) grabbed the men’s title after racing across the 21km distance in 1 hour, 8 minutes and 12 seconds, while Hsu Yu-fang (許玉芳), also from Taiwan, clocked 1 hour, 18 minutes and 46 seconds to win in the women’s group.
Both set new records for the half-marathon.
Ho and Hsu were also the fastest Taiwanese at the Taipei Fubon Marathon last month, although they came behind two different runners from Kenya.
Ho, a substitute physical education teacher in Greater Kaohsiung, was suffering through an emotional low point in his life after experiencing difficulties finding a job, but said that yesterday’s win and the support of spectators had lifted his spirits.
His brother, Ho Chin-wen (何盡文), also performed well. He finished third in the men’s full marathon, clocking 2 hours, 34 minutes and 28 seconds to win the title of fastest Taiwanese in the division.
Ho Chin-wen said the run went smoothly for the most part, but he developed a blister on the big toe of his right foot by the 35km mark, forcing him to run the remaining 7km barefoot.
The setback seemed to be only minor, as he said he was 1 minute behind his record at last month’s Taipei marathon, though he attributed the difference to not having fully recovered from that race.
Amid the fierce competition there were some heart-warming stories.
Liu Tzu-wei (劉子葳), 22, suffered from depression before he turned to exercise to regain physical and mental health.
He kept a photograph of his late grandfather attached to his arm as he competed in the men’s full marathon, saying he hoped his grandfather was watching him run.
In total, 3,247 runners from 11 countries participated in competitive events on Kinmen, including the 42km, 21km and 11km races, marking the highest turn-out that the Kinmen Marathon has ever seen.
Another 20,000 people joined a non-competitive 5km fun run, police estimated.
Now in its seventh year, the marathon began at 7am at the National Quemoy University.