Ugandan runners managed all but one podium finish in yesterday’s inaugural Airtel Afrika Mashariki Half Marathon, at Kololo Independence Ground, that attracted over 3000 runners from the region.
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA)’s Ben Simwoko, with a two-year long experience in half marathon races, was the biggest winner of the day after he clocked 1:05:56 to clinch gold in the 21km race, the main event of the day.
“It was a bit hilly and challenging but I managed to get my way around it,” Simwoko, the 2013 MTN Kampala Marathon (10km) winner, told Daily Monitor.
“I just want to thank the organisers for giving us this opportunity to compete,” he added.
The marathoners rubbed shoulders with Mashariki Ambassadors; Paralympics triple gold medalist Henry Kiprono Kirwa (Kenya), Muhammad Zakia Mrisho (Tanzania), Commonwealth double gold medalist Moses Kipsiro and kickboxing icon Moses Golola.
Proceeds from the marathon run under the theme ‘Healthy citizens for regional integration and support to Lake Victoria Environmental Conservation’ and graced by Miss Uganda Leila Kalanguka and East Africa Legislative Assembly speaker Mr Daniel Kidega, will go to funding different Mashariki events like tree planting around Lake Victoria and River Nile.
“Sport is no longer only about entertainment. It is about diplomacy because these athletes travel all over the world with our flags. It is also a means of forex earnings because of the prize money they accrue and most importantly it’s healthy to play sport,” Kidega said.
Kidega was flanked EALA MP Benjamin Mulengani and members of the County Government of Nandi (Kenya) including sports minister Patrick Sang, who coached Stephen Kiprotich before he became a World and Olympic champion.
1 Ben Somikwo (UGA) 1:05:56
2 Ezekiel Chepkirop (UGA) 1:06:05
3 Patrick Cherwoto (UGA) 1:06:29
1 Thomas Ayieko (UGA) 27:25.00
2 Abdallah Mande (UGA) 27:33.01
3 Alex Cherop (UGA) 27:42.07
1 Suzan Kosgei (KENYA) 31:52.06
2 Janat Chemisto (UGA) 31:54.03
3 Doreen Chemutai (UGA) 32:00.05
Courtesy of monitor.co.ug