Nyirarukundo, Hitimana strike gold in Kigali Peace Marathon

Sunday

Half marathon (21km)

Men
1. Noel Hitimana (Rwanda) – 01:16:16
2. Kipkmoi Kipsanga (Kenya) – 01:17:01
3. Moses Kemei Kengeitch (Kenya) – 01:17:13

Women
1. Salome Nyirarukundo (Rwanda) – 01:28:53
2. Esther Chesang Kakuri (Kenya) – 01:32:35
3. Marthe Yankurije (Rwanda) – 01:36:10

Rwandan athletes rolled up their sleeves yesterday to win the half marathon races at the 2018 Kigali International Peace Marathon as Salome Nyirarukundo and Noel Hitimana scooped gold medals in the women and men half marathon categories, respectively.

More than 8,000 athletes from around the world took to the streets of Kigali for this year’s edition that saw Kenyan athletes again dominate full marathon category, which they have won since 2005.

Athletics sensation Salome Nyirarukundo, who was expected to repeat last year’s feat, did not disappoint. The 21-year-old became Rwanda’s first female athlete to again interrupt Kenyan dominance, winning the gold medal in the 21km distance.

The APR athletics club runner made no mistake on Sunday morning as she successfully retained the crown for the women’s half-marathon race at Amahoro National Stadium. She covered 21km in an hour, 28 minutes and 53 seconds, making her the first athlete to ever win two gold medals in two consecutive years of the annual event.

“I’m extremely excited today. Last year, I won this medal and my target was to retrain it,” Nyirarukundo told Times Sport moments after crossing the finish line.

“It was a tough race because somewhere along the course we lost the route and ended up running 24km. There was also a Kenyan who put up a great challenge throughout the race – she helped me step up my game and rise up to the challenge,” she furthered added.

In second was Kenyan Esther Chesang Kakuri, who clocked 01:32:35, while Rwanda’s Marthe Yankurije (1:36:10) rounded up the third position to win a bronze.

In the meantime, Rwanda’s Noel Hitimana ended a 12-year jinx in the men half-marathon, claiming a gold medal after posting 01:16:16 to cover 21 km.

Hitimana became the second Rwandan athlete to claim gold in half marathon after retired long distance and cross-country runner Dieudonné Disi, who became the first local athlete to do so at the 2006 edition.

Hitimana, 28, was followed by the Kenyan duo of Kipkmoi Kipsanga (1:17:01) and Moses Kemei Kengeitch (1:17:13), who took silver and bronze medals, respectively.

However, it was again a Kenyan affair in the full marathon as the trio of Kibet Elkana Yego (02:23:42), Kenneth Rono Kibet (02:23:52) and Jonesn Omari (02:24:35) clinched gold, silver and bronze medals in the men’s category, respectively.

In the women’s category, another Kenyan trio of Beatrice Rutto Jepkorir, Caroline Jeruto, and Priscilla Chelangat finished in first, second and third.

Full marathon winners in both men and women’s categories, walked away with Rwf2 million, silver medalists got Rwf1.6 million, while bronze medalists pocketed Rwf1.4 million.

In the half marathon, the gold medalist took Rwf1 million, while the first and second runners-up were awarded Rwf700,000 and Rwf500,0000, respectively.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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