SINGAPORE - Waganesh Amare, an unfancied 22-year-old Ethiopian runner without a major international victory to her name, stole the limelight yesterday as she ended Kenya's four-year domination of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) women's race.
But the Kenyan stranglehold on the men's race continued, with Kenneth Mungara, 41, the 2010 winner, taking his second title in 2hr 16min 42sec, more than two minutes ahead of countrymen David Tarus (2:19:07) and Charles Kanyao (2:19:18).
Said Mungara, competing in the SCMS for the first time since 2010: "My target was the course record (2:11:25) but I'm still very happy with the result. I enjoyed the run from start to finish, even though it was very hot.
"I ran alone for much of the race. It's harder to push when you are running alone, and I slowed down when I felt pain.
"If I come back next time, I will definitely do better."
Amare, making her SCMS debut, stormed across the finish line in 2:46:54, well behind the course record of 2:31:55.
She finished ahead of Kenyans Elizabeth Chemweno (2:47:50) and Pauline Wangui (2:48:59).
Even at the post-race press conference, she still seemed startled by her victory, keeping her answers short and constantly looking down at her bright pink running shoes. Even with the subsequent help of her impromptu translator, countryman and world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie, her shyness was still apparent.
Said Amare: "I'm very happy to have ended the Kenyan dominance.
"My preparation for this marathon was wonderful but I didn't expect to win because it's my first time racing in Singapore.
"I started to break away around the 39km mark and that was when I knew I could win.
"I don't know how I'll celebrate, I'm just very happy inside."
Gebrselassie, 41, a two-time Olympic 10,000m champion, also laced up for the SCMS.
He finished third in the 10km run with a time of 30min, behind the Kenyan duo of Solomon Kipyego Keter (29:47) and Thomas Maritim (29:53).
Said the effervescent Ethiopian: "I'm very happy. I didn't prepare well for this... to run (30min) in this weather, I'm satisfied."
Mok Ying Ren was the top Singaporean finisher, winning the Marathon (Men) Singapore category with a time of 2:53:42.
Rachel See won the Marathon (Women) Singapore with a time of 3:17:13.
Mok, a SEA Games marathon gold medallist, was pleased with his run, even if the timing was off his personal best of 2:26:30.
"This was my first marathon since I injured my shin in July," he said. "Completing the run has given me the belief that I've fully recovered from my injury, and that I can start increasing the intensity of my training."
While his long-term goal is to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Mok is taking it slow for now.
Said the 26-year-old: "My immediate target is to qualify for next year's SEA Games. I might also go on a training trip to either Japan or the United States as part of my preparations. "I'm just glad to get this run under my belt."
This article was first published on December 8, 2014.
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