Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Busy Weekend: Bolder Boulder, LA Marathon, Kenyan Armed Forces

yudaAs many American track fans caught their breath on a weekend falling between college conference and regional championship weekends, and professional track meets on each coast, KIMbia athletes still found themselves plenty busy in competition at several excellent, if less widely-covered, events.

With many KIMbia athletes making their States-side homes in Boulder, it was fitting to have so many of them run before the hometown crowd.  Each year, following an all-comers citizens’ race, the pros take to Boulder’s streets in a race scored by national affiliation, and, this year Millicent Gathoni — the defending champion — and Jane Gayunki led the Kenyan team, finishing 5th and 8th, respectively. In the men’s competition, KIMbia was represented on Team Kenya, Team USA, Team Commonwealth, and Team Colorado, with John Yuda our first finisher, notching a 3rd-place finish for Team Commonwealth.  Boulder-resident James Carney followed Yuda and was the first American finisher in 4th place. Other Top 10 finishes came from Gilbert Okari (6th) and Charles Munyeki (7th), both competing for Kenya.  Locally-based Jason Hartmann took 12th as a member of Team Colorado, and Fasil Bizuneh would represent Team USA in 15th. Read the full article

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Close, But No (Victory) Cigar

Charles finished second, just one second back, at the 2007 Gyeongju International MarathonAfter a brilliant 26.1 miles, Charles Kibiwott found himself on the losing end of a 100m sprint to the finish line at the Gyeongju International Marathon in Gyeongju, South Korea. Countryman and friend, Edwin Komen won the race in 2:09:44; Charles ran 2:09:45. “So close,” he said immediately after the race, his thumb and index finger stretched apart indicating a close margin. “So close…” Laban Kipkemboi was forced to drop out with an injury to the ball of his foot.

The race played to Charles’s strength, a nice even effort with very few swift changes in pace. Perhaps the biggest surge was the one Komen threw in after making two sharp turns just before entering the stadium. It was a race that tested the athlete’s patience and will, an occasion to which Charles rose today.

The race went out rather slow, with none of the contenders eager to push the pace. In fact, for much of the first half, the pacemakers ran alone about 30 meters in front of the main pack. At 18.5 kilometers I thought the athletes made a terrible error, allowing Wilson Kigen to tuck in behind the pacemakers while the rest of them sat back. Quickly they realized their mistake, and six athletes, Charles and Komen included, pressed to close the gap. At that point, the race was on.

By 32K the pack was down to five athletes – Kigen, Kibiwott, Komen, Matthew Sigei, and pacemaker Hosea Kogo, Laban and Charles before the racewho did a fantastic job keeping the athletes in the race and on pace as best he could. At this point, the nerves started to creep in. We – the agents, coaches, and marathon staff – were watching the race in a small makeshift locker room inside the stadium. People were getting tense. Or at least I was. I thought Charles looked good, but at 35K his facial expression changed. He was constantly looking at his watch and over his shoulder. And he wasn’t taking sponges from the tables like the other athletes. I thought he was in trouble.

At 35K Kogo stepped off the road, a job well done. At 37.5K Sigei lost his rhythm and faded off the back of the pack. It was down to three – Charles, Komen, and Kigen. Kigen’s manager, Arien Verkade, looked over at me and shrugged; we both agreed that Komen looked very relaxed and effortless. We hoped to be proved wrong.

Charles, smiling, with winner Edwin Komen after the raceAround a slight bend at 39K, Komen became the aggressor for the first time in the race. He didn’t break away from the other two, but he pushed the pace hoping to. Approaching 40K I thought to myself, “Charles should skip his water and make a charge to the finish line. He doesn’t have the strongest kick.” After the race, Charles would tell me that he thought the same thing, but was scared to push from too far out because of what happened in Rotterdam 2006. There, he pushed from a few kilometers out and appeared to have the race won, but his back tightened with about 600 meters to go and he almost slowed to a walk. Three athletes passed him in the last quarter mile.

As they approached the last water stop, Charles found himself on the outside, away from the table. All three athletes had their water on the first table, so they all lunged at the same time. Charles just grabbed his bottle by the flag. After they each ditched their bottles to the curb, with 1.4 kilometers to run, they pulled even with one another, running three abreast. At that point we all left the locker room and headed to the finish line.

When we stepped outside and locked up at the jumbotron, Kigen had fallen off the back. It was down to Charles and Komen. Before entering the stadium the athletes make two semi-sharp turns. Komen almost missed the first one, veering to the right before the course marshals waved him to the left. Unfortunately, Charles was following right behind him and in the quick change of Charles Kibiwott, 2nd Placedirection, lost a step. But Charles quickly regained his ground and I honestly thought he was going to go right past Komen. They pulled even again, but at the final turn before entering the stadium, Komen got the inside track. He stepped on the track, 100 meters from the finish line, two strides in front of Charles. Charles gave it one last grind, his head down with arms flailing across his body, his singlet waving off his shoulders. But it wasn’t enough. Komen crossed the line, arms raised, with Charles just two steps behind.

Despite being “so close,” Charles was very happy with his race. “After Chicago and Rotterdam (where Charles ran poorly), I needed a good effort here. And I did that. I am happy.” From the minute he crossed the finish line until now, save for the 120 seconds when he was vomiting into the trash can, Charles hasn’t stopped smiling. At the awards ceremony the top six athletes were given a trophy and a Charles hands a boy his flowers after the awards ceremonybouquet of flowers. As Charles came off the awards stand, I watched as a young boy ran up to him, having scrambled away from his mother. Charles shook the boys hand and then gave him the flowers. The boy was grinning from ear to ear.

Now we’re back at the hotel, where I’m sure the rest of the day will consist of napping and eating, in no particular order. Tomorrow is another early morning for most of us, as we have the dreaded five hour bus ride back to the airport before our 10+ hour flights. At least we’ll be leaving with a smile.

Gyeongju Race Results – Top Ten
1. Edwin Komen – 2:09:44
2. Charles Kibiwott – 2:09:45
3. Wilson Kigen – 2:09:56
4. Matthew Sigei – 2:10:10
5. Yusuf Songoka – 2:12:36
6. Procopiofra – 2:14:16
7. Teklu Tefera – 2:16:03
8. Heiyang Deng – 2:16:20
9. Thomas Chemitei – 2:17:59
10. Sin Jung-Hoon – 2:18:00

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

KIMbia 2nd, 4th, and 5th in San Jose

Yuda, Nyariki, and Munyeki at the Start of the San Jose 1/2 Marathon (Photo by Victah Sailer)Coming off his pacing duties last week in Chicago, John Yuda ran an impressive 61:13 at the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon. Unfortunately, McDonald Ondara ran 61:11 for the win. It’s the third race this year where Yuda has come out on the short end of the kicking stick (Beach to Beacon and VA Beach Half Marathon being the other two). About one minute back from the leaders was Tom Nyariki in 62:17, good for fourth place. “It wasn’t my best race, but I ran okay,” Nyariki said after the race. “I think I am a little tired after Boston [BAA Half Marathon] last weekend.” Charles Munyeki rounded out the KIMbia contingent with a 5th place finish in 62:58.

Next week Laban Kipkemboi and Charles Kibiwott will be racing the Seoul Marathon. And this week chasingKIMBIA continues Tom Nyariki at the San Jose 1/2 Marathon (Photo by Victah Sailer)with its coverage from Boulder, Colorado where Fasil Bizuneh and Stephen Kiogora are preparing for the US Olympic Marathon Trials and the NYC Marathon, respectively. The Trials are on November 3rd, the regular Marathon on November 4th.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Laban Gets Ready for the Marathon

I am very excited to be here in Japan. And I am excited for the race. My training in Kenya went very well this time. I did most of the training in my home area of Cherigany. There are several good runners in the area so I had many training partners. When Dieter arrived I went to Iten to Kimbia camp for my speed training. I did great 25k and 15k. Training went well and I am prepared.

It is hot in Osaka but I don’t think it is as hot as people say. [Editor’s Note: It’s extremely hot and humid.] Not as hot as it was in Boston in 2004. The race will be slow, but not too slow. The field is pretty strong with [Jaouad] Gharib, [Mubarak Hassan] Shami, and [Hendrick] Ramaala. [Editor’s Note: Gharib has since pulled out of the race.] I think I can win a medal, but the marathon is tough. You never know.

Tom and Matt came by today to help me with my water bottles. It was great to see them since they just arrived yesterday. I need Matt to put new songs and chasing kimbia videos in my iPod!

I will leave Osaka on Wednesday so that I can get home to start preparations for Seoul Marathon in October. I want to run fast there. Now I must rest. Good luck to everyone.

UPDATE: Laban did not finish the marathon this morning. He was with the lead pack at 20 kilometers, but started to fall off the back at the halfway point. He tried to regain a rhythm over the next two kilometers, but couldn’t get going again. He dropped out at the 24-kilometer mark.

“When we turned around, near 20k, I just lost all my energy. I had nothing. I tried to stay close for the next kilometers, but I could not go. With Seoul coming in October, I decided to drop out and not risk getting too tired. I am disappointed, but it was a very difficult day to run.”

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Konnichiwa. That Means “Hello” in Japanese.

Nelson, Bairu, Tegenkamp, Solinksy, and Sikes in LondonFour KIMbia athletes will be competing at this year’s World Championships in Osaka, Japan. Matt Tegenkamp, Michelle Sikes, and Laban Kipkemboi all arrived today via Madison, Wisconsin, Greensboro, North Carolina, and Cherigany Hills, Kenya, respectively. Simon Bairu has been in Singapore for the last week with the Canadian National team; they chose Singapore as their training camp prior to the Championships. Simon will join the others in Osaka on Thursday, the same day Tom and I arrive.

Here is the competition schedule for these athletes:

Saturday, August 25th – Men’s Marathon (Laban)A visit to Laban’s house in Cherigany, outside Eldoret.
Monday, August 27th – Men’s 10,000m Final (Simon)
Wednesday, August 29th – Women’s 5,000m 1st Round (Michelle)
Thursday, August 30th – Men’s 5000m 1st Round (Matt)
Saturday, September 1st – Women’s 5,000m Final (hopefully Michelle)
Sunday, September 2nd – Men’s 5,000m Final (hopefully Matt)

We’ll be providing coverage from Osaka on a regular basis starting later this week. In addition, the athletes are all keeping journals, which we’ll post as the days roll on. Sayonara.

Official World Championships Website

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