Nyirarukundo out to end Kigali International Peace Marathon jinx

OrganiSers say over 6000 athletes from different corners of the world are expected to take part in the 2017 Kigali International Peace Marathon that takes place today.
Salome Nyirarukundo (at the front) claimed silver medal in the women half marathon last year but believes this is her year to win gold. S. Ngendahimana
Salome Nyirarukundo (at the front) claimed silver medal in the women half marathon last year but believes this is her year to win gold. S. Ngendahimana

Sunday

Half Marathon 21km 8am
Full Marathon 42km 8:10am
Run for Peace 7km 8:20am

 

OrganiSers say over 6000 athletes from different corners of the world are expected to take part in the 2017 Kigali International Peace Marathon that takes place today.

 

This year’s edition will be flagged off by the First Ladies of Kenya and Rwanda, Margaret Kenyatta and Jeannette Kagame, respectively.

 

After flagging off the Half Marathon at 8am and the Full marathon 8:10am, the two First Ladies are scheduled to run a symbolic and non-competitive 7 km special “run for peace” race that will start at 8:20am.

Local athletes will be aiming to end a decade-long jinx that has seen Kenyan athletes dominate the annual event in both Full and Half Marathons, in men and women categories respectively.

Retired long distance and cross-country runner Dieudonne Disi remains the only Rwandan to have won a gold medal in 2005 when the race was started.

He won the 2006 half Marathon with other best performances from Rwandan athletes being held by Jean Baptiste Ruvubi, who won a silver medal in the 2015 Men full marathon and Salome Nyirarukundo who claimed silver medal in the women half marathon.

With the likes of Ruvubi and Felicien Muhitira not taking part this year, all eyes will be on 20-year old Nyirarukundo in the half marathon, who has emerged as a big hotshot to outcompete the regional giants at international competitions.

Last year, the youngster was the only local athlete to manage a podium finish, an improvement on the 2015 performance when she finished fourth also as the best female Rwandan athlete.

“I am ready to compete with whoever shows up, I believe this is my year to win a gold medal, I look forward to getting on the road and do my job, I really feel confident about my chances” Nyirarukundo told Sunday Sport.

The 21km race will start from Amahoro National Stadium via Chez Lando, Gishushu, MTN Centre Nyarutarama, Gacuriro and back to Gishushu, then Parliament, Umubano Hotel and then to Gishushu, Gisementi, Tigo, University of Rwanda (former KIE), Control Technique, Sports View Hotel and back to Amahoro, while the 42km race will run twice this route.

The 7km Run-for-Peace will start from the Amahoro National Stadium via University of Rwanda (former KIE), Control Technique, Sports View hotel and then back to the stadium.

The prize money will remain the same as last year’s where the gold winners in both men and women categories will walk away with Rwf2m, while silver winners will pocket Rwf1.5m and bronze winners will take Rwf1.2m.

Last year, James Cheritich Tallam won gold in men’s 42km race using two hours, 19 minutes and 3 seconds ahead of compatriots Rono Kibet (02:19:20) and William Rutto Chebdi (2:20:11). Theoneste Kayiranga (02:24:06) was Rwanda’s best finisher in 7th place.

In the women category, it was also an all Kenyan affair with the winner, Jeruiyot Chemweno, clocking two hours, 38 minutes and 20 seconds, ahead of Alice Cheroti Milgo Serser (02:41:32) while Jacqueline Nyetipei Kipromoo (02:53:56) got the bronze medal.

In the men’s half marathon, Benson Kipruto took the gold medal in 1h:4:13 while Rwandan Felicien Muhitira came in 5th position. The women’s gold was won by Kenyan Anges Jeruto in one hour, 13 minutes and 31 seconds and Nyirarukundo scooped silver clocking 1 hour, 13 minutes and 55 seconds.

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