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Kenyan athletes steal show at Kilimanjaro Marathon

From: MUHIDIN ISSA MICHUZI in Moshi, 27th February 2011 @ 11:00

THE 9th Kilimanjaro International Marathon climaxed on a high note here on Sunday with Kenyan runners dominating the event, followed by locals Banuelia Brighton, Mary Naali and Stephen Huche in the top slots.

Banuelia, holder of national women's marathon finished second in the 42km run, clocking 3:02:52 behind Anna Kamau of Kenya whose time of 3:00:16 won her this year's event that went with a 3m/- cash prize.

Third placed in the women's category was Ophra Oruke, also from Kenya, who clocked 3:03:20. Hundreds of Moshi residents who turned up at the MUCCOS grounds, including Information, Youth, Culture and Sports Minister Emmanuel Nchimbi, who was chief guest, saw Kenyan Kipkemboi Kipsang who clocked 2:17:08 triumph in full marathon.

Local boy Julius Kilimo came in second with 2:17.10, followed by another home boy and enterprising young runner Steven Huche who made it at 2:19.24. In the half-marathon run for women, Kenya's Valentine Kipketer emerged winner after spending 1:15.08 on the road, followed by counterpart Loren Kitita who clocked 1:15.48. Local girl Mary Naali came in third with 1:15.55.

The men's half-marathon was won by Kenyan Michael Kemau by clocking 1:03.58 as fellow countrymen Leonard Muchare and Geofrey Ndungu came in second and third respectively. Nchimbi, who presented medals and prizes to winners, saluted Tanzania Breweries Limited who through their Kilimanjaro Lager brand are the main sponsors of the annual event that has become one of the most important fixtures in the athletics calendar.

The minister told the mammoth crowd that included tens of tourists, some of whom took part, that Kili marathon has become a blessing in disguise to Moshi residents whom he said stood to benefit a lot from it in terms of business and networking.

He reminded Tanzania Athletics body as well as the organisers that next year the event would mark its tenth year running, challenging them to come up with an even better show, considering the world renowned London Marathon and the Olympics would also be held at that time.

"Tanzanian runners should also use next year's Kili Marathon as a preparation stint for the London Marathon as well as the Olympics. "We want medals from the London Marathon next so please prepare yourself well and don't let us down,'' said Nchimbi.

He said in 2006 Samson Ramadhani made Tanzania proud by wining gold in the Commonwealth games in Melbourne, Australia, saying everybody was happy, and urged more Samsons to emerge and win laurels for the country.

The minister also noted that he was aware of complaints from sports fans that football was the only game that was being given top priority, insisting that was not the case and that the government appreciated all disciplines.

Nchimbi called upon public and private enterprises to also consider investing in sports, underlining the need for them to consider disciplines that have won glory for the country than any other, with athletics being one of them.

TBL's communications manager Emmy Oriyo said as part of the 10th anniversary of the Kili Marathon, next year the event would be improved in terms of preparations as well as prizes. "We are aware that running the marathon is a tough and challenging and therefore we appreciate seeing many of our youth coming in great numbers to compete and bring honour to Tanzania", said Oriyo.

The day was coloured by a number of entertainment groups, including The African Stars band whose 'Twanga Pepeta' styles won many a heart, as did TMK Wanaume Family and Joseph Payne 'Mzungu wa BSS' of the Bongo Star Search 2010 fame.

The annual Kili Marathon event is being sponsored by Kilimanjaro Lager, together with Vodacom who sponsored the 5km Fun Run. Other co-sponsors include DT Dobie, TPC Sugar, Kilimanjaro Water, Tanzanite One, Simba Cement, Keys Hotel, Tanzanite One, Precisionair, KK Security and the Tanzania Tourist Board.

It is being jointly coordinated by Wild Frontiers of South Africa and Dar es Salaam-based Executive Solution, whose Managing Director Aggrey Marealle was the day's Master of ceremonies.

Source Daily News: Online Edition