The athletics discussion about Uganda concentrating more on long-distance events intensifies as more settle in the marathon event.
The 42km road race has become the darling event for many runners since Stephen Kiprotich won the Olympic title in London on August 12, 2012.
On Sunday, Filex Chemonges took it a notch higher by becoming the first Ugandan to run a marathon under two hours and six minutes as he came third at the Toronto Marathon in Canada.
Chemonges exuded a strong finish in perfect conditions of 8 degrees C and 5km/hr wind (at the start) to finish third in a new national record (NR) time of 2:05:12.
Ten days after his 24th birthday, Chemonges took four minutes off his personal best and erased the previous NR mark of 2:06:33 held by his mentor Kiprotich set when he came second at the Tokyo Marathon in Japan on February 22, 2015.
“It’s big, a big NR,” said Jurrie van der Velden who is both Chemonges and Kiprotich’s manager.
“The first time a Ugandan runs sub-2:06 hour and very close to 2:04 is a great run,” the Dutchman remarked.
“Filex was competitive till late in race which of course contributed to a great finishing time. It will definitely open options for future races on a higher level,” added Jurrie.
The top four finishers were all separated by 13 seconds with Kenyan Philemon Rono winning in a course record time of 2:05:00. Ethiopian Lemi Bernahu who had led to the 40km mark was second in 2:05:09.
Chemonges pocketed 10000 Canadian dollars (Shs28m) for making the podium. This was his third career marathon after second-place finishes at the Linz Marathon in Austria on April 14 and at the Beirut Marathon in Lebanon last November.
Chemonges beat the Olympic qualifying mark of 2:11:30 and having missed the Doha World Championships in fifth place in ranking, he now leads the quest for marathon places to the 2020 Tokyo Games with the qualification window on from January 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020.
Chemonges spends most of his time in Kapchorwa in company of Kiprotich, Robert Chemonges, Linet Chebet and all follow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge’s coach Patrick Sang’s marathon training program.
Elsewhere, a week after setting pace for Kipchoge at the Ineos 159 Challenge in Austria, Ugandans Timothy Toroitich and Thomas Ayeko came second and third respectively with 1:00:53 and 1:00:56 at the Lisbon Half-Marathon in Portugal
1. Philemon Rono (KEN) 2:05:00
2. Lemi Bernahu (ETH) 2:05:09
3. Filex Chemonges (UGA) 2:05:12
1 Titus Ekiru (KEN) 1:00:12
2 Timothy Toroitich (UGA) 1:00:53
3 Thomas Ayeko (UGA) 1:00:56
CHEMONGES AT A GLANCE
Date of birth: Oct 10, 1995
Major Event: Marathon
Personal Best: 2:05:12
Manager: Jurrie van der Velden
Nov 11, 2018: Beirut Marathon, 2nd (2:11:57)
Apr 14, 2019: Linz Marathon, 2nd (2:09:19)
Oct 20, 2019: Toronto Marathon, 3rd (2:05:12)