KOCHI: The competition has just got better at the Cochin International Half Marathon. But there is no stopping the Kenyans, the masters of long distance running. Bernard Kipyego and Helah Kiprop clipped quite a few seconds of their own course records to retain the men’s and women’s titles in the second edition of the Cochin International Half Marathon on Sunday.
The duo, having etched their names in history as the first ever winners of the Kochi event last year, have since returned stronger.
Kipyego clocked 62.38 mins, 18 seconds faster than his last year’s time of 62.56 mins. Later, Kiprop steamed in ahead of a decent field in 71.40 mins, 14 seconds faster than her time of 71.54 mins set last year. Kiprop’s compatriot Caroline Kilel (1:13:26s) and Ethiopia’s Workenesh Edesa (1:14:42s) finished second and third respectively. Among men, Ethiopia’s Adugna Takele Bikila.
Among Indians, Incheon Asian Games 1500m bronze medallist O P Jaisha of Kerala surprised herself with the best time in half marathons by Indian women over the past two years, in her maiden attempt in the 21 km race. She posted a time of 75.53 secs, pushing specialist marathon runner Lalita Babar of Maharashtra (77.28 mins) to second place. Her statemate Monica Raut (1:20.29s) settled for the third spot.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu’s G Lakshmanan emulated Kipyego in defending his crown, but timed in more than a minute slower than last year. The Armyman clocked 65.49 mins to take home a prize of `2 Lakh. Services runners Gopi T and Kheta Ram came in behind the leader.
International elite winners Kipyego and Helah pocketed $5,500 (Approximately `3.54 Lakh) each for their efforts, apart from a course record bonus of $1500 (Approximately `92,700). Jaisha and Babar took home `2 lakh and `1.5 lakh each, and also gained `1 lakh for finishing below 78 minutes.