- Obiri finished second in her debut last year
- She completed a Kenyan double over the weekend
- Bernard Koech won the men’s race
Multiple track world champion Hellen Obiri finally clinched the much coveted Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Half Marathon over the weekend, improving from her second place finish in her debut last year.
Obiri, who transited to road running last year after more than a decade and a half on track, completed a Kenyan double with Bernard Koech winning the corresponding men’s race.
The two-time World Champion cut the tape in a time of 1:05:05 to triumph by 44 seconds in the women’s race ahead of Ethiopia’s world marathon champion Gotytom Gebreslase.
The men’s race was closer, but Kibet still claimed a clear win as he kicked away to beat his Kenyan compatriot Daniel Mateiko by four seconds – 58:45 to 58:49.
Obiri and Gebreslase were part of a pack that passed through 5km in 15:10. By 10km they had broken away from their competition, clocking 30:28 at that point, just ahead of Kenya’s Olympic marathon silver medallist Brigid Kosgei (30:31).
Obiri start to make her move
Obiri started to make a move and was 25 seconds ahead at 15km, following her pacemaker through that mark in 45:39. Her lead only grew and she eventually crossed the finish line 44 seconds clear, Gebreslase claiming the runner-up spot in 1:05:51.
Running a well-judged race, Ethiopia’s Ftaw Zeray finished third in a PB of 1:06:04, half a minute ahead of Kosgei.
“I am really delighted to have won at RAK. It was a good race and I really was determined to go all the way and win. At least this year I knew the course very well after making my debut last year and it was easier to manage my race,” Obiri told Sports Leo.
She added; “This victory will motivate me to keep working in my training and achieve more.”
Obiri last year made her debut in the marathon, competing in New York where she finished sixth in 2:25:49. She is yet to determine her next stop in the Marathon.
In the men’s race, Kibet and Mateiko featured in the lead group that passed the 10km mark in 27:33. Breaking away along with their compatriot Richard Yator, the trio were together through 15km in 41:30 before Yator was dropped.
Kibet chalk more than a minute off PB
Kibet kicked and Mateiko couldn’t match his rival’s finishing strength, as Kibet took more than a minute off his PB with his winning performance.
Yator followed them over the finish line in 59:37, while Ethiopia’s Gemechu Dida finished fourth in 59:53.
A record number of more than 5500 participants took part in the programme of events in Ras Al Khaimah, which also included a half marathon relay, 5km race and 1 mile events.
Elsewhere in Seville, Spain, Kenya’s Jackline Chelal and Ethiopia’s Gadisa Shumie claimed victory at the Zurich Maraton de Sevilla, a World Athletics Elite Label road race.
Clocking 2:20:29 and 2:04:59, respectively, they both ran big PBs and the men’s race featured good depth as six men dipped under 2:06:00.
–Additional reporting courtesy World Athletics