Priscah Jeptoo and Vincent Rerimoi claimed a Kenyan double at the 44th edition of the Stramilano Half Marathon in Milan

Held in warm weather conditions with a temperature of 22C, Jeptoo returned from a two-year maternity break to win the women’s race in 1:08:26.

Rerimoi, meanwhile, was a surprising winner of the men’s race in 1:00:10, beating steeplechase specialist Jairus Birech, who finished runner-up in 1:00:32 on his debut at the distance.

Jeptoo and Ethiopia’s Meseret Meleka took an early lead in the women’s race, covering the first five kilometres in 16:10 and 10 kilometres in 32:16. Kenya’s Lucy Murigi Wambui, twice world mountain champion and Stramilano winner in 2014, was in third place at that point with 33:07.

Jeptoo, the 2011 world and 2012 Olympic silver medallist, pulled away from Meleka after the half-way point and went through 15 kilometres in 48:27. The 2013 London and New York City marathon champion stepped up her pace in the final six kilometres and romped home in 1:08:26 in Piazza Castello in the centre of Milan. Meleka finished second in 1:10:39, ahead of Wambui (1:11:47).

Jeptoo, now 34, hadn’t raced since October 2016 when she finished fourth at the Amsterdam Marathon in 2:25:57.

“I have dedicated the past two years to my family and I did not compete due to maternity leave,” she said. “I am happy with my come-back. Last week I fell during training and I was not in my top shape. I will run a half marathon in Gothenburg in May and possibly a marathon in the autumn.”

Kenya’s Paul Tiongik took the early lead in the men’s race, clocking 13:55 for the first five kilometres. He was followed 15 seconds later by a chasing group comprising Rerimoi, Birech, James Kibet and James Mburugu.

Birech, a two-time Diamond League champion in the steeplechase, had a five-second lead over Rerimoi at 10 kilometres, reached in 28:14. His lead grew to 17 seconds at 15 kilometres, which he passed in 42:32.

Rerimoi came from behind in the closing stages and overtook Birech at 18 kilometres. He crossed the finish line in 1:00:10, smashing his previous of 1:01:19 set last year in Japan, where he lives and trains.

Birech, competing in his first half marathon and just his third road race at any distance, finished second in 1:00:32 ahead of Tiongik (1:02:07) and Joel Mwangi (1:02:15). Italy’s Lorenzo Dini was fifth in a PB of 1:03:35


posted Monday March 25th