Thursday, September 21, 2017

Marathon effort: champion to defend title

The second Yoma Yangon International Marathon will be held on January 19, with 2013 champion Joseph Gitau Kariuki from Kenya returning to try for a second consecutive victory.

Kenyan runner Joseph Gitau Kariuki (left) receives his oversized novelty cheque after winning the 2013 Yoma Yangon International Marathon on January 27, 2013. Photo: Thiri Kenyan runner Joseph Gitau Kariuki (left) receives his oversized novelty cheque after winning the 2013 Yoma Yangon International Marathon on January 27, 2013. Photo: Thiri

Kariuki, 27, covered last year’s course in 2 hours, 19 minutes, 13 seconds, besting second-place finisher Onesmus Muindi, also from Kenya, by 28 seconds. Thaung Aye of Myanmar nabbed the last podium spot with a time of 2:27:12.  

The Yangon victory turned out to be the start of a successful year for Kariuki, who went on to win the Pattaya Marathon in Thailand in July and placed second in Malaysia’s Penang Bridge International Marathon in November.

“Last year was my most successful year as a marathon runner to date,” said Kariuki, who started running long distances in 2008. “Out of the four marathons I ran, I won two and came in second in another.”

 Of these, he said, Yangon stands out above the others.

“To be honest, the Yoma Yangon Marathon is my favourite marathon to date. They treat a champion like a champion, and I am humbled by that,” he told The Myanmar Times in an email interview. “I also like the course, the security and the well-mannered fans on the streets.”

Kariuki’s only complaint was the first prize of US$2500, which he said was small for a marathon. The prize is the same this year, but he still feels inspired to defend his title.

“I run long distances for my health. As the saying goes, health is wealth. Besides that, the cash prize also motivates me,” he said.

As for training, Kariuki has taken the same careful approach to this year’s event as he has in the past.

“Mentally, I always remain focused in my training and setting achievable goals,” he said. “Physically, I train as hard as I can, but I ensure that I do the right training by following my training program to the fullest.”

Kariuki said that on race day he always wakes up three hours before the start time and takes a shower.

“Two hours before the race I take energy drinks, if any. One hour before the race I only take totally plain water. With 30 minutes remaining, I do a very easy warm-up, and with 10 minutes remaining I go to the starting line.”

He expects to follow the same ritual this Sunday, arriving at the starting line at Thuwunna National Indoor Stadium just before the gun goes off at 5am.

The top marathon competitors are expected to cross the finish line around 7:15am. The day’s events will also include a half-marathon and a 5-kilometre fun run.

A total of 2697 runners are registered to participate in the day’s events, of which 2133, or 70 percent, are from Myanmar. Entries in the 42km marathon total 397 – 269 from Myanmar and 128 from other countries.

 

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