Kenyan Barnabus Kiptum was far ahead of his rivals that the runner-up thought he had won

Kenyan Barnabus Kiptum was so far ahead of the chasing pack in Sunday’s Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon that runner-up Dawit Wolde of Ethiopia thought he had won.

After finishing third in last year’s race, 32-year-old Kiptum was out of sight and out of mind as he blazed to a new course record. The Kenyan said it felt “amazing” to win such a prestigious race in an “iconic” city like Hong Kong.

“I’m so happy,” said Kiptum. “Hong Kong is one of my favourite places, full of good people. The race had so many [people watching] and this is how races, competitions, should be.

“I had so much fun and I hope I will be invited next year to defend my record.”

What makes Kiptum’s record of two hours, nine minutes, 21 seconds even more impressive is that he was able to achieve it despite rain, wind and humidity.

“I actually thought the weather was better than last year, when it was very hot,” he said. “If you want to be a champion runner, you have to be ready for any kind of weather.”

Kiptum beat the previous record of 2:10:31 set in 2017 by Ethiopian Melaku Belachew and he claimed a US$10,000 bonus for beating a 2:09:30 target set by organisers.

He takes home US$65,000 in prize money for his efforts, the most he has ever won in his career. But he insisted that he was more pleased with the result.

“I always just want to be number one, and to finish ahead of all these good runners, I am just so happy,” said Kiptum, who was surprised at how dominant his performance was.

In fact, he was so far ahead of his competitors that second-placed Wolde did not realise he had only finished second.

“I did not even know the Kenyan guy had won already,” said the 27-year-old Wolde, who hails from Ethiopia. “I only realised when they gave me a medal that said second place and I said ‘what is this?’ I thought I had won.”

Wolde finished with a time of 02:11:11, just one second ahead of countryman Tsegaye Getachew Tadese and three seconds ahead of Kenyan Joel Kemboi Kimurer.

“I thought the fight was between us three, and I thought I won the fight,” Wolde said.

Thetrio take home US$30,000, US$15,000, and US$10,000 respectively – all decided by a few seconds’ difference.

“I am still happy with the result, and it’s not about the money, it’s the challenge,” said Wolde. “Last time I was here, I finished closer to 20th because I got injured. So I told myself, next time I come here I’m going to give a better performance.

“I’m glad the organisers invited me. It was a little later than I would have liked, but I am happy. Hopefully they invite me back next year and I can win. My dream is to win this race.”

posted Sunday February 17th