AN UNFAMILIAR race course is one of the challenges for a visiting runner but for Kenyans who are used to traveling to different places to race, unfamiliarity means nothing.
Kenyans Eric Kibiwott Chepsiror and Monica Nieru ruled the men’s and women’s open 42-kilometer race in their first attempt in the 9th Cebu City Marathon yesterday at the I.T Park Garden in Lahug.
Meanwhile, Cebu’s elite runner Noel Tillor overcame a slow start to defend the turf over the visiting runners en route to his fourth 42K local division title.
Chepsiror completed the marathon in 2 hours 26 minutes and 27 seconds to win the men’s open 42K title, beating countrymen Elisah Sawe (2:29:37) and Jackson Chirchir (2:32:18).
The 32-year-old Chepsiror, who temporarily stays in Bacayan, Talamban, Cebu, told Sun.Star Cebu this event was his biggest win in a marathon. Before coming to Cebu three months ago, the African was in racing in China.
Chepsiror, who bagged P35,000 for winning the marathon, started the race in the lead pack together with three other Kenyans. The four runners were reduced to three in the 35K mark until Chepsiror broke away with approximately six kilometers left.
“I learned about CCM when I checked the internet so I decided to go here. My next race is the SM2SM Run then after that, I will go back to China,” he said.
It was Chepsiror’s first race in the Queen City of the South and second in the country after the Prycegas International Marathon in December last year.
Nieru, on the other hand, came to the country and to Cebu for the first time just to join the CCM and it paid off, as she will go home with P35,000 cash and the women’s open 42K title after finishing in 2:53:42. The 28-year-old Nieru was second at the start of the race but recovered early and took the lead 12 kilometers in.
Kenyans Milka Chebokel got second place in 3:12:03 and Susan Chepkwony salvaged third place in 3:21:44.
Nieru told reporters through an interpreter that when she heard of the CCM, she really wanted to come to Cebu. She said racing in the event was great because the course was not that hard compared to the races in Kenya.
Nieru, a full-time runner who has raced in Korea, Japan, Switzerland and other parts of Europe, said that she’s considering to return to the country this year to join the Milo Marathon.
Cebuano Tillor had a come-from-behind victory in the men’s local 42K division for his fourth CCM title.
The 30-year-old runner and coach had a slow start that put him in the chasing pack. He slowly recovered and returned to his well-oiled form in the latter part of the marathon.
Tillor crossed the finish line in 2:43:45 to take the top honor in the men’s local 42K, beating early leader Jeson Agravante of Bacolod City, who clocked 2:47:48. Cebu’s Paul James Zafico grabbed third place in 3:01:19.
“I was not feeling well at the start of the race, my body was aching I think it was because I joined two marathons in December. I really had a slow start, I was able to pick up my pace in the last kilometers of the race,” Tillor said in Cebuano.
He said that while running, he just thought of giving his best and just forget about the pain. He continued with the pace until he caught up with the third runner in Talisay. Tillor realized that there was a chance to catch up with Agravante, and he was able to do so in the last three kilometers.
Tillor said this race is his offering to Sr. Sto.Niño and to running because it gave him a new start in life. He said that when he was new in running, CCM was the event that gave jumpstarted his career.
“I never expected to win this because the local runners outside of Cebu are very strong. I was happy to win the race and my fourth local title,” said Tillor, who also topped the 2012 to 2014 editions.
Jennylyn Nobleza won the women’s title in 3:25:52, beating Cebu-based Ruffa Sorongon (3:27:51) and Lizane Abella (3:46:53).
Cebu’s Prince Joey Lee of Spectrum Runners Club made the most of his first CCM as he walk away with the men’s 21K title.
Lee, 19, a stalwart runner of University of Cebu, nabbed the title in 1:23:50 winning over Azlan Dalompines who was a minute behind . Bemedalled coach John Philip Dueñas rounded up the Top 3 with a time of 1:25:39.
Dumaguete City Mereeis Ramirez won the women’s 21K in 1:38:49 over Joan Romanos (1:43:37) and Kristy Abello (1:50:02).
Arnel Florentino (16:52) and Cherry Andrin (20:14) emerged in the men’s and women’s 5K.
Arnel Florentino won the men’s 5K in 16:52 and beat Joey Delos Reyes (16:59) and runner and triathlete Chobie Dueñas (17:07), while Cherry Andrin won the women’s 5K in 20:14 and beat Moira Frances Erediano (24:50) and Michelle Anne Tibagacay (25:10).
The age group champions in the marathon are Hanmin Lee (2:56:09) in the 20 to 29 years old, Abaraham Cheruiyot (2:42:51) in the 30 to 39 years old, Edilberto Batiancila (3:24:12) in the 40 to 49 years old, Michael Nielsen (3:44:02) in the 50 to 59 years old and Eduardo Eduaria (4:24:18) in the 60 & above.
The winners in the half-marathon are Abelito Neiz (1:32:11) in the 20 to 29, Adonis Singson (1:27:53) in the 30 to 39, Terso Pamaybay (1:31:04) in the 40 to 49, Monsito Tuyco (1:50:05) in the 50 to 59 and David White (1:50:41) in the 60 & above.
The 2016 CCM had 3,700 registered runners but only 3,350 showed up on race day. Race director Rio Dela Cruz of Runrio said that the number of runners increased this year, especially in the 21K and 42K categories.
Last year they had 1,285 marathoners and 1,395 half-marathon and this year they have 1,450 in the 42K and 1,626 in the 21K. The 2016 edition also had the new starting line and finish line at the I.T Park Garden because the previous one was closed due to building construction.
Dela Cruz said that the new venue is great because it was more shaded compared to the previous one. He said that overall, the race went well aside from the very hot weather. Dela Cruz pointed out some things that they needed to adjust for next year.
“The reason why I ran was to observe the things to improve. There was a problem when you passed the Provincial Capitol going to Escario St., medyo maraming sasakyan na nagsasalubong sa mga runners. For next year, we will make the adjustment, and make it a two way,” he said. “Along the route, there was a stop and go portion, but that was manageable I hope the runners understood the stop and go portion because there was no other diversion for us.”
The participants were happy, especially the foreigner runners because of our Filipino reception. I hope they come back for next year,” he said.