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Kenyan barber trims plenty off the Gold Coast Airport Marathon record


A year on from the long-standing Australian all comers marathon record being broken on the Gold Coast, the mark was given a further trim by a former barber from Kenya at an age many consider to be past their prime for athletic pursuits.

His name is Kenneth Mungara. His age is 41. The event was the 37th annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon.

Mungara put the clippers through his rival countrymen over the final two kilometres to cut the finish tape in 2:08:42, shaving 32 seconds off the Australian all comers and race record and two seconds off his own Masters 40+ world record.

The Kenyan, who only took up marathon running in his early 30s and believes his best is still to come, beat last year’s race winner and previous all comers record holder Silah Limo by 12 seconds with Evans Ruto a further second behind in third.

Whilst Kenya stood one-two-three on the podium in the men’s marathon, it was Japan who provided first to fifth in the women’s 42.195km battle.

Risa Takenaka, 25, clocked the second fastest time ever at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon by a woman, crossing the line in 2:28:25. Takenaka finished over a minute ahead of Keiko Nogami (2:29:34) with Manami Kamitanida in third (2:33:43).

On a great day for running, other winners included Eloise Wellings (NSW) and Takehiro Deki (JPN) in the ASICS Half Marathon, NSW’s Bill Chaffey in the wheelchair marathon and local Gold Coast girl Sara Tait and Paul Ashley (NSW) in the wheelchair 15km.

More than 27,500 people took part in the 37th annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon, with organisers delighted with the community support, visitation from interstate and overseas and great and fast racing in what is an IAAF Road Race Gold Label event.

“We are all really pleased with the way everything came together this weekend on the back of the success of 2014,” said Events Management Queensland CEO Cameron Hart.

“There were pretty high expectations for this year and I believe they’ve been met.

“Not only did all the runners have a good time, but a major contributor to the success was the Gold Coast community.

“This year many runners, both elite and social, commented on how fantastic the Gold Coast residents were in cheering them on course.

“Many runners claimed personal bests as a result of the encouragement and support they received from Gold Coasters along the track.

“The weather played its part and the images beamed to all corners of the world through traditional and social media have been absolutely stunning.

“More of those images will go out via our global television broadcast to an estimated one hundred countries and 850 million viewers.

“Importantly for the Gold Coast economy, of the 27,500 runners, 21,000 were from outside the Gold Coast, bringing friends and family to most likely exceed last year’s estimated economic impact of $21 million.”

Sunday Race Reports

Gold Coast Airport Marathon

The obliteration of the men’s race record by a 41-year-old in a Kenyan clean sweep and Japanese women taking the first five places in the women’s event were highlights of today’s 37th annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon in beautiful running conditions.

Former barber Kenneth Mungara gave the race record a crew cut by running 2:08:42 and shaving 32 seconds off the 2:09:14 set last year by countryman Silah Limo, who finished today’s race in second place with a personal best of 2:08:54.

They were joined on the podium by fellow Kenyan, Evans Ruto, who also ran under the previous race record in 2:08:55.

Not to be outdone in the clean sweep stakes, Japan’s diminutive trio of Risa Takenaka (2:28:25), Keiko Nogami (2:29:34) and Manami Kamitanida (2:33:43) were the first three to cross the line in the women’s event.

Two other Japanese runners, Shoko Shimizu and Fumiko Hashimoto, weren’t far behind in fourth and fifth place respectively.

Bilambil Heights athlete Bill Chaffey took out the full distance wheelchair marathon title from two-time winner Richard Nicholson.

But it was a win for the ages when Mungara, who took up marathon running at age 33, also broke the Australian All Comers record and his own Masters 40+ world record by a second.

“As I was finishing, I saw the time and thought ‘I have to get it’ and I kept going,” Mungara said.

“I was targeting the Gold Coast Airport Marathon record and the (weather) forecast and track helped.

“I know I can go faster again in the future and will keep training hard. When you run at this age, you have to plan ahead and keep working,” he said.

Mungara had to go with some mid-race pack surges.

“In the leading group, we each had to push each other very hard. When you go alone early, you can’t make it, so we worked very hard together,” Mungara said.

“I was just waiting to make my move. I felt very comfortable I could get this time and was extremely relaxed. You have to focus on yourself, even if they’re pushing each other,” he said.

Like other winners this weekend, Mungara credited the crowd with lifting him along the latter part of the course.

“The atmosphere was very good. With people everywhere cheering I had to make a move. I was thinking ‘you have to win this race because the crowd are giving you that morale’.

“The prizemoney means a lot, as I have family back in Kenya and I’m working very hard for them. I don’t know where my next marathon will be, but I will be ready.

Mungara said he has no timeline for retirement.

“Only God knows! Only He will know, but I keep running,” he said.

Limo said his main aim was to better last year’s race record.

“I wanted to reduce my time, and I did that,” he said. I tried to push myself, but it was really tough,” he said.

“I’m now going to train for a half marathon later in the year,” he said.

 Third placed Ruto couldn’t keep with the record-setting Mungara pace over the closing kilometres.

“We were all close, then Kenneth broke away and I couldn’t catch him,” he said. “It was tough, but it was a good race.

“The weather was good, the water is good and the course was flat and I enjoyed it. If the course and weather is the same next year, I will return,” he said.

Takenaka’s one minute, nine second win was the second fastest women’s time recorded on the Gold Coast course behind the 2:27:17 set by countrywoman Yukiko Akaba in 2013.

She said winning the Gold Coast race ticks off one of her main targets for the year.

“I knew in the last 10 kilometres I had a pretty good lead, but I didn’t want to back off for an easy finish,” Takenaka said.

“I wanted to keep running hard right until the finish; even if I could improve my current time by one second I wanted to do it.

“The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is wonderful and I really appreciated the crowd support. The people cheering helped me out a lot.

“I want to thank the pacemaker who did a very good job so I was able to run relaxed. I was aiming for a little faster time, so I’m slightly disappointed, but I am happy with winning,” she said.

Takenaka, who is hoping to run at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, was comfortable enough in her run to play tourist.

“The views from the course are beautiful and I enjoyed it,” she said. “It is a beautiful course with a lovely seaside – it’s very enjoyable to run here,” she said.

Nogami was pleased with her run.

“I feel really good, and very happy with myself. In January I’m doing another marathon in Japan, so this has been a great lead up to that,” she said.

“The spectator cheering was great and really pushed me. The weather was really great, a little cold at the start, but after I got going, it warmed up nicely,” she said.

Kamitanida recovered from an early race fade to take third.

“After the 10km drinks, I went down and it was hard to recover, but other than that I’m happy with how it went.

“Next year, in March, I’m going to do another marathon, so I’m excited for that,” she said.

New Zealand’s Victoria Beck (2:45:58) and Brisbane’s Jonathan Peters (2:21:14) took out the IAAF Oceania Area Marathon Championships.

The Queensland Marathon Championships were won by Southport’s Sally Matsubara (2:57:14) with Peters also taking out the men’s title.

Wheelchair Marathon

Bilambil Heights’ Bill Chaffey took the spoils in the full distance wheelchair marathon in 1:41:22 over ACT’s Richard Nicholson (1:46:53) while NSW’s Paul Ashley (45:46) and the Gold Coast’s Sara Tait (47:22) won the 15km men’s and women’s races.

“I’m training for triathlon, but I’ve done a lot of work in the chair here and I think it showed today,” Chaffey said.

“We were both doing a very fast time, but then something happened and I came home with the win, so I can’t help but be happy with that. It’s my hometown race and I finally got it after being second the last three years.

“There were so many people cheering and it really pushes you on. I was hoping to come home with a close second, so I’m happy.”

Chaffey is hoping to represent Australia at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Nicholson had gear problems heading into the final 12 kilometres.

“Bill and myself were having a battle until I had a technical issue, but that’s racing,” Nicholson said.

“I noticed a squeak in my wheel after about 17 kilometres and it grew worse. After about 30 kilometres, I looked down and noticed my axle was hanging off by about an inch.

“We didn’t have any Allen keys, but fortunately a crowd member ran to get one which I used about four minutes later.

“That saved my race and day, so a big thanks to him because he’s a local hero,” he said.

Nicholson said he has no time to lament today’s technical problems.

“I’ve got the World Championships in October in Qatar so I’m going to get as fast as possible to adjust back to track racing,” he said.

The IAAF Oceania Area Half Marathon Championships were won by Eloise Wellings (1:10:10) and Liam Adams (1:03:29).

Today’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon feature race attracted a record 6,118 entries.

ASICS Half Marathon

New South Wales speed machine Eloise Wellings made it three wins from her three starts over the half marathon distance this morning when she was an emphatic winner of the ASICS Half Marathon at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon event.

Her win in 1:10:10 inflicted an Independence Day (American time) defeat on USA’s Sara Hall (1:10:49) while Queenslander Cassie Fien, who set a 17 second personal best with her time of 1:11:28, was third.

South Australia’s Olympic and Commonwealth Games marathoner Jessica Trengove lunged at the line to finish three seconds behind Fein, declaring she had “never tried this hard at the end of a race”.

In the men’s race, Japan’s Takehiro Deki put daylight between himself and the rest of the field to win the ASICS Half Marathon in made to order running conditions on the Gold Coast.

The top ranked 25-year-old marathon specialist bettered his personal best time over the shorter distance by a minute, recording 1:02:11 to beat Victoria’s Liam Adams (1:03:29) by over a minute and the UK’s Ben Moreau (1:04:32) by over two minutes.

Deki said he was happy with his result as he eyes an Olympic ambition.

“This is the first time I have seriously gone for a half marathon time,” Deki said.

“I am definitely aiming for the full marathon in Rio next year.

“I’m not much of a track runner, I’m more of a road specialist, so I wanted to run a good road race, and this time of year there really aren’t many road races as good as this,” he said.

Deki said he now knows the loneliness of the long distance runner.

“At halfway I knew it was possible to beat my personal best, but after seven kilometres I was completely on my own, and running on my own it was hard to keep that pace.

“I am comfortable running on my own when I have to, so it wasn’t too hard, and the wind wasn’t a problem – the conditions were great,” he said.

Adams missed his personal best by a second.

“I’m a little bit disappointed right now,” Adams said.

“I went at the pace I thought I could before the race, but obviously I’m not at that fitness just yet so I blew myself up.

“I really struggled towards the end, but still, it was close to a PB,” he said.

The 2012 winner of the event said illness had impeded his preparations.

“It was a big gamble today as last month I had a chest infection and it took a while to get over.

“I’ve had a couple of good weeks of training and my training before the infection was strong.

“I really thought I’d be going for a good time, but I guess the infection affected me more than I thought it would.

“It’s a good start for my marathon preparations later in the year, so all in all I suppose it’s a reasonable result,” he said.

Adams said Deki’s early race surge was hard to counter.

“We were all running at an even pace at the start, then at about the eight kilometre mark Takehiro made a surge and that was danger zone for me.

“That pace was way faster than what I wanted, so I had to hold back a little bit and thank God I did, because otherwise I’d be blowing up a lot worse than I am.

“It was a very strong run from Takehiro, a gutsy effort,” he said.

The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games marathon runner said it’s time to look at full-distance return.

“I’m hopefully targeting a marathon now in late September or early October so it’s good preparation and reasonable shape to be in,” he said.

Moreau, who notched his second third placing in the event, also rued the early pace. 

“I was running about a minute ahead of my personal best pace and actually felt pretty good,” Moreau said.

“I wanted to go pretty aggressively, but that (early pace) was probably a bit too aggressive.

“The problem was, as soon as I let them go a little bit, I was stuck in no man’s land and it was quite a long second half of the race.

“I actually caught myself looking at the sunrise coming over the sea and had to snap myself back into it.

“I wasn’t displeased with it, but wasn’t over the moon. It was a tough run, but all part of marathon preparation, so it was still a good run for me,” he said.

Moreau knows he has some work to do to realise an Olympic ambition.

“I’m going to do Chicago Marathon in October and try to qualify for the Rio Olympics next year for the UK.

“I’ve just got to run a couple of minutes quicker than my current marathon personal best,” he said.

Three time Commonwealth Games and London 2012 Olympic Games representative Wellings set a 31 second personal best with her maiden win on the Gold Coast.

“This sort of course definitely suits me, so I feel like I had some sort of advantage there today,” Wellings said.

“It definitely wasn’t easy, but I’m just so happy to have the win and it’s a real confidence booster before the (2015) world championships.

“There is so much energy and atmosphere. The Gold Coast is a bit of a party town. It’s a lot of fun coming here and it was great having the men in the same race,” she said.

Wellings is tip-toeingly setting her sights on graduating to the full distance.

“Short term this was a hard, long race before the world championships and all about increasing my strength and getting my legs ready for the pounding of the roads for a marathon one day.

“I have no desire yet to go double this distance, but I know that desire will come one day.”

Hall set a new personal best by the barest of margins; a second.

“It has to be one of my most memorable races I have ever run,” Hall said.They were great conditions, and there was a great group of people to run along with.

“I was kicking really hard to beat my personal best, so I’m glad I got under,” she said.

The American could have used a pocket calculator on the course.

“It was a little tough having to convert everything into kilometres, because I have never done that before. The maths gave me something to do, I guess. It’s a long race.

“Next I’m going to run a full marathon. I was doing this one to see how I would go,” she said.

Fien, who also has two ASICS Half Marathon second places to her name, was keen to do it all again.

“I feel amazing; let’s do it again,” she said. That was 17 seconds under my personal best.

“I’m stoked, elated – this is the best feeling I have ever had after a race,” she said.

Despite her post-race energy, Fien said it wasn’t a race without a measure of self doubt.

“At the six kilometre mark, I thought ‘I haven’t got this’. I just needed to hang on and just stay with the pack.

“But I did the work, and got the result in the end,” she said.

10,150 half marathon entrants faced the starter to race in picture perfect Gold Coast conditions this morning.

Top 10 Results – Sunday 5 July

Gold Coast Airport Marathon

Men: Kenneth Mungara (KEN) 02h08m42s 1, Silah Limo (KEN) 02h08m54s 2, Evans Ruto (KEN) 02h08m55s 3, Tewelde Hidru (ERI) 02h09m33s 4, Dominic Kimwetich (KEN) 02h11m51s 5, Alphonce Simbu (TAN) 02h12m01s 6, Shigeki Tsuji (JPN) 02h15m19s 7, Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) 02h16m23s 8, Ryo Yamamoto (JPN) 02h16m40s 9, Samuel Woldemanuel (ETH) 02h17m56s 10.

Women: Risa Takenaka (JPN) 02h28m25s 1, Keiko Nogami (JPN) 02h29m34s 2, Manami Kamitanida (JPN) 02h33m43s 3, Shoko Shimizu (JPN) 02h37m13s 4, Fumiko Hashimoto (JPN) 02h37m37s 5, Victoria Beck (NZL) 02h45m58s 6, Kelly Parlane (NZL) 02h52m20s 7, Ruth Wilson (TAS) 02h55m10s 8, Riona Ishimoto (JPN) 02h55m52s 9, Rie Sugaya 02h56m16s 10.

Wheelchair Marathon

Men: Bill Chaffey (NSW) 01h41m22s 1, Richard Nicholson (ACT) 01h46m53s 2, Jason McGregor (QLD) 02h24m30s 3, Mark Urquhart (QLD) 02h52m07s 4.

ASICS Half Marathon

Men: Takehiro Deki (JPN) 01h02m11s 1, Liam Adams (VIC) 01h03m29s 2, Ben Moreau (UK) 01h4m32s 3, Craig Appleby (VIC) 01h05m32s 4, Callan Moody (NZL) 01h05m54s 5, Brad Milosevic (NSW) 01h06m12s 6, Matthew Cox (NSW) 01h06m43s 7, Brady Threlfall (NSW) 01h06m48s 8, Alastair Stevenson (QLD) 01h07m19s 9, Caden Shields (NZL) 01h07m38s 10.

Women: Eloise Wellings (VIC) 01h10m10s 1, Sara Hall (US) 01h10m49s 2, Cassie Fien (QLD) 01h11m28s 3, Jessica Trengove (VIC) 01h11m31s 4, Yuka Koga (JPN) 01h13m35s 5, Milly Clark (NSW) 01h13m43s 6, Sinead Diver (VIC) 01h13m58s 7, Remi Nakazato (JPN) 01h14m11s 8, Nicki McFadzien (NZL) 01h15m08s 9, Lydia O’Donnell (QLD) 01h15m29s 10.

Wheelchair 15km

Men: Paul Ashley (NSW) 45m46s 1, Jonathan Tang (NSW) 54m02s 2, Yuhei Yasuno (JPN) 01h01m24s 3.

Women: Sara Tait (QLD) 47m22s 1, Emily Rozos (NSW) 58m16s 2, Justine Dawson (WA) 01h01m12s 3.