Jackson Kiprop stole the show yesterday by not only finishing seventh at this year’s ING New York Marathon comfortably, but also by finishing places ahead of Olympic and World Champion Stephen Kiprotich. This was Kiprop’s maiden visit to New York and his third full marathon.
In a race won by Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai in 2:08:24, Kiprop who occasionally surged into the lead clocked 2:10:56 well ahead of Kiprotich (2:13:05) and this race definitely signaled the end of the prisons warden’s days as a pacesetter.
In his first marathon, Kiprotich entered as a pacesetter but emerged a shock winner with a course record in 2011. Kiprop did the same in January by not only setting a course record but also winning the Mumbai marathon at the first time of asking before finishing 10th at the World Championships in Moscow.
On Sunday, very few will pay kept an eye on him. “I expected Jackson to do very well,” Team Uganda coach Benjamin Longiross who watched the race on television in Kampala told RedPepper online on Monday.
Elite Athletes’ Jos Hermens, who also owns an Amsterdam-based athlete-management company when contacted, put Uganda’s rise in distance-running in perspective: “Uganda has a lot of (running) potential, but the system there is not conducive to help the sport and athletes grow. That’s the reason Ugandan athletes train near Eldoret (in Kenya) alongside Kenyan athletes.
They pick up most of the tricks of the trade from the Kenyans and are now beating them at their own game. In fact, currently, we have as many as 10 Ugandan athletes signed up with us. In fact, Kiprop, running in his very first marathon, was initially roped in as a pace-setter and was supposed to drop off the race around the 30-km mark. But he says his body felt great and so he continued and went on to win it quite easily in the end in record time,” said Hermens.
Uganda’s rise, has led to Hermens finding himself in a rather peculiar situation. “The Kenyans take a lot of pride in their distance running achievements. That’s why when Kiprotich beat Kenyans Kirui and Kipsang in London, the Kenyan athletics body was quite upset. Some officials even came up to me and made their displeasure known. Thankfully, both nations share a good relationship and Uganda’s growth in distance-running has been gradual, so the Kenyans are fine with them training together. I think Uganda will take sometime to dominate the sport,” felt Hermens. Going by Kiprop’s finish in New York however, that ‘sometime’ doesn’t seem too far away.
Mutai defends title
Geoffrey Mutai ran by himself through Central Park, the same scene as the last New York City Marathon.
The race’s return to the five boroughs looked no different from the past in many ways, yet much had changed. The streets were still crammed with runners and the sidewalks with fans, undaunted by the tight security.
Mutai broke the course record in New York two years ago, then the 2012 race never happened because of the destruction from Superstorm Sandy. The April bombings at the Boston Marathon bared the vulnerability of an event that packs city streets with people.
So barricades blocked off much of the park, and fans waited in bag-check lines to get in.
Still, there were plenty of spectators to urge on Jeptoo to chase down Buzunesh Deba, a Bronx resident who finished runner-up for the second straight time in her hometown race.