by Brett Larner
Five Japan-based Kenyans are scheduled to compete in the Feb. 20 Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates, a race which in only its third running is well on its way to become one of the world's premier events.
University ekiden circuit rivals Mekubo Mogusu (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) and Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) will face each other in the men's race alongside nearly a dozen men with half marathon times under the hour mark. Mogusu, who clocked three sub-hour times within Japan in 2007, made his international debut at last year's 2nd Ras Al Khaimah but finished disappointingly down the field in 5th place with a time of 1:00:35. This year's race will be Gitau's international debut.
In the women's race, Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren) leads the way after running the fastest time in the world last year with her 1:07:57 win at the 2008 Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon. Julia Mumbi (Team Aruze) and Lucy Wangui Kabuu will join her. Mumbi won the 2008 Miyazaki Women's Half Marathon and was 2nd behind Mizuki Noguchi at the 2008 Sendai Half Marathon, while Wangui's most recent half marathon mark was a 1:12:01 at the 2007 Osaka Half Marathon.
2008 Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon Elite Field
Patrick Makau (Kenya) - 58:55
Paul Kosgei (Kenya) - 59:07
Deriba Merga (Ethiopia) - 59:15
Wilson Kiprotich (Kenya) - 59:16
Francis Kibiwott (Kenya) - 59:26
Wilson Chebet (Kenya) - 59:33
Tilahun Regassa (Ethiopia) - 59:34
John Kiprotich (Kenya) - 59:44
Charles Munyeki (Kenya) - 59:44
Joseph Maregu (Kenya) - 59:45
Mekubo Moguso (Kenya) - 59:48
Dickson Marwa (Tanzania) - 59:52
Daniel Gitau (Kenya) - 59:58*
Edith Masai (Kenya) - 1:07:16
Philes Ongori (Kenya) - 1:07:57
Aselefech Mergia (Ethiopia) - 1:08:17
Julia Mombi (Kenya) - 1:08:31
Lidia Cheromei (Kenya) - 1:08:35
Gladys Cherono (Kenya) - 1:09:36
Lucy Wangui Kabuu (Kenya) - 1:09:45
Teyba Erkesso (Ethiopia) - 1:09:45
Pauline Wangui (Kenya) - 1:09:49
Magdalene Makunzi (Kenya) - 1:09:58
*Note: Gitau's agents Peak Sports Management credit him with a time of 59:58.97 in Ageo on 8/20/07, but the IAAF, the Kanto Regional University Track and Field Association and Nihon University do not include the mark on their lists of Gitau's achievements. The date in question was a Monday at the peak of the Japanese summer, a truly incredible performance if the mark is not an error like Peak Sports Management's listing of Daniel as having run in the professional-only New Year Ekiden on Jan. 1, 2008 rather than the Jan. 2 Hakone Ekiden. Peak Sports Management did not respond to a request for verification of the listed result. Gitau's time of 1:07:02 on the 23.2 km 2nd stage of the 2009 Hakone Ekiden, his best to date, was equivalent to a 1:00:58 half marathon.
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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