Daniel Rotich charmed Mbale town with brave running as he powered to victory in the National Half Marathon Championships on Saturday. The 22-year-old runner broke off from the leading pack after 15km to come home in one hour, two minutes and two seconds.
Crucially, Rotich gained revenge on Commonwealth double champion Moses Kipsiro, who beat him to second at the National Cross-country Championships in Jinja the previous weekend. “I was very prepared for this. I came here determined to win,” Rotich said after his second straight half marathon win, the first one coming at the Kampala Marathon in December last year.
“I was so worried of Kipsiro, I thought he would catch up with me because he has a very strong finish.” Kipsiro was competing in this kind of race for the first time and his inexperience showed as he couldn’t keep up with Rotich’s blistering pace in the latter stages of the event.
After a very fast start orchestrated by Moses Kibet from the Mbale District headquarters where the competitors were flagged off from, Kipsiro kept slightly behind the leading pack.
Kibet, who eventually finished second (1:03:1) took a commanding lead, as the runners interrupted traffic on Mbale-Tororo highway. After 10.5km on the highway, they made a u-turn to Mbale town and Kipsiro stormed the front with Kibet starting to tire shortly after.
But Rotich opened up around 15km with bodabodas joining the race, hooting and urging him on. For the rest of the race, it was him and the bodabodas with a handful of people cheering him from the roadside. Kibet also opened a gap between himself and the pack that had third-placed Isaac Ayeko (Elgon) and fourth-placed Kipsiro.
“It was very tough. It was very hot. And running for the first time, I decided to use my pace,” Kipsiro said, reacting to his third loss on the local scene since 2008. “But I am happy for Rotich. It’s good he has won. He is more experienced on the road and I can’t complain.”
Prisons’ Vanis Chemutai, meanwhile, broke off early and held on to clinch the women’s 21km race in 1:02:2. Women’s national marathon record holder Jane Suuto came second, almost a minute behind the winner. There was no place on the podium for former world champion Dorcus Inzikuru as she could only finish 8th in 1:30:3. Inzzi, however, received the most rapturous welcome to the finish line. You could easily think she had beaten everyone else to the tape.
National Half Marathon Championships results
1. Daniel Rotich (Standard) 1:02:2
2. Moses Kibet (Arua) 1:03.1
3. Isaac Ayeko (Elgon) 1:03:2
4. Moses Kipsiro (Elgon) 1:03:3
5. Geoffrey Kusuro (Arua) 1:03:4
1. Vanis Chemutai (Prisons) 1:16:4
2. Jane Suuto (Arua) 1:17:2
3. Dorcus Chesang (Arua) 1:21:0
4. Regina Cherotich (Prisons) 1:21:4
8. Dorcus Inzikuru (Arua) 1:30:3
1. Stellah Chesang (Police) 41:30.9
2. Rebecca Cheptegei (UPDF) 41:43.6
3. Nancy Cheptegei (UPDF) 42:21.8
1. Peter Kibet (Police) 35:09.5
2. Alex Cherop (Police) 35:26.9
3. Phillip Kipyego (Prisons) 35:33.4