Kenneth breaks Gold Coast Marathon course record with world masters best

Kenneth Mungara pulled away from defending champion Silah Limo and Evans Ruto over the last two kilometres to win the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, yesterday.

The 41-year-old Kenyan, a barber in an earlier lifetime, reverted to type giving a close shave to the world M40 masters record, his winning time of 2:08:42 taking two seconds off the mark he set in Milan earlier this year.

But it was an old-fashioned short-back-and-sides for the race and Australian all-comers’ records set by Limo last year as Mungara slashed 32 seconds off those marks. After no improvement for 32 years on Robert de Castella’s 2:09:18 from the Brisbane 1982 Commonwealth Games, the fastest on Australian soil has now been revised twice in two years.

Like rush-hour buses it seems, there can be a long wait for a record and then they come along two at a time.

Mungara breaks away late

The pace in the leading group in the men’s marathon was always ambitious, the leaders reaching half way in 1:03:48.

Mungara, Limo and Ruto were always with the lead pack which, at this stage, also included Eritrea’s Tewelde Hidru, Kenya’s Dominic Kimwetich and Tanzanian marathon debutant Alphonce Simbu.

Through to 35km it was always Hidru or then Ruto and Limo who showed in the lead, with Mungara dropping back on some of the surges but always in contact. Simbu and Kimwetich had fallen back.

Mungara said the leading group had worked hard together. “When you go alone early, you can’t make it.

“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.”

Only nearing 40km, after the leaders had made the final turn and headed back to the finish at Southport, did Mungara show in the lead. At the 40km checkpoint (2:02:01) he had forged a mini-break of two seconds to Ruto with Limo a further second back. The margin grew to 12 seconds by the finish line, which Mungara reached clear in 2:08:42.

Mungara saw the clock coming to the finish line and knew his master’s world record was within his reach. “I saw the time and thought ‘I have to get it’ and I kept going,” he said.

His first target had been the race record. “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.

De Castella and Steve Moneghetti, Australia’s two fastest male marathon runners, were present to witness Mungara’s performance yesterday, as was Australia’s fastest female, Benita Willis. All three are ambassadors for the Gold Coast race, along with two other distinguished Australian performers in four-time Gold Coast winner Pat Carroll and Lee Troop.

The top three finishers bettered the previous Australian all-comers’ record set by Limo in last year’s race. In a neat statistical coincidence, 12 seconds was also the margin between de Castella and Tanzania’s Juma Ikangaa when they ran the fastest two times on Australian soil in the 1982 Commonwealth marathon.

In fourth place, Hidru was also under 2:10 with a personal best 2:09:33. Kimwetich was fifth in 2:11:51 and Hidru capped a fine debut with a 2:12:01.

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