First Lady Margaret Kenyatta Sunday morning led a team of 517 Kenyan athletes during the Kigali Peace marathon in Rwanda where they dominated all the competitive races.
The First Lady and her host, Rwanda First Lady Mrs Jeanette Kagame however ran a symbolic and none competitive 7-km special “run for peace” race joined by thousands of peace enthusiasts from various countries including mothers with babies and those on wheel-chairs.
A total of 5879 athletes representing 43 countries took part in the event that started and ended at the Amahoro National Stadium where the winners of the marathons received their monetary awards.
The Kenyan First Lady flagged off the 21km race while Mrs Kagame flagged the 42 km event before Mr. Aziz Daouda from Morocco , currently serving as the Technical Director of Africa Athletics Federation performed the flag-off ceremony for the run for peace race.
The Kigali International Peace Marathon, now in its 13th consecutive year is the only marathon in the world that promotes peace both in Rwanda and across borders.
The anniversary plays an important part in the country’s journey towards peace, healing and reconciliation after the 1994 Rwanda genocidal mass slaughter of some of its populations where over 800,000 citizens lost their lives within 100 days of senseless ethnic cleansing as the rest of the world watched helplessly.
During Saturday’s marathon skipped by all elite athletes from Kenya, emerging younger blood of compatriots scooped all the top positions 1-6 in the Women’s 42 km race and all the top 11 positions in the men 42km event.
In the women category of the event, Ruto Beatrice Jepkorir took a time of 2;46.38 to complete the race followed closely by Bundotich Pamela Chepkoech at 2;47;21.
Sarah Jerop Legat came at third position in a time of 2;47;24 followed by compatriots Too Fridah Jepkite Lodep, Sylivia Jemeli and Chebet Tenyan in that other.
In the male category of the 42km full marathon, the Kenyan men proved their prowess in the tracks when they scooped all the top positions led by Chumba Gilbert Kipleting at 2;19;49.
He was closely followed by Kiyeng Edwin Kemboi at 2;19;57 , Tallam James (2;20.00),Tarus David Kiptui ( 2;20;04) , Elkana Kibet Yego (2;21;46) and Kiptoo Mathew who completed the race at 2;21;59 to complete the first six positions with prize money.
In the 21km male category of the marathon, Kenyans took home the first, second, fourth and sixth positions while Rwanda comforted itself with positions three and five.
Kipkoech Bartile Kiptoo finished the race at position one (1;04;24) followed by Mutai Ezekiel Kimeli at 1;05;38 before Rwandan athlete Hakizimana John broke the party for Kenyans to emerge at position three in 1;05;48.
Rwanda however put a spirited fight in the women 21km race where Nyirarukundo Salome sensationally beat the Kenyan ladies at 1;15;28 to be followed by Sheilla Chesang at 1;20;24.
Rwandan ladies again proved unbeatable by the Kenyans when they ran away with the event’s position three and fourth leaving Kenya to take position fifth and another Rwandese to complete the list of the first six positions with prize money.
Top winners of the 42 km Marathon , both men and women, took home Rwandese Francs 2 million (approximately KSh 240,000 ) while the winners of the 21km race received Rwandese Francs 1 million (about Ksh 120,000).
Kenyans have dominated all the past 12 editions of the peace marathon including last year where they scooped all the top 6 competitive positions in both the 42 km and 21 km races.
According to the Coach-cum-trainer of the Sakwa Sports Club based in Kerarapon, Ngong , Mr Fredrick Rioba seven top winners (from Kenya ) of the Kigali peace Marathon will be offered full scholarships and training (in Athletics) opportunities in the USA beginning July.