media_artricles :: 2017
Second becomes firstNewsday :: 30.01.2017
Kenyan Leah Kigen successfully defended her Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon (TTIM) crown yesterday despite crossing the finish line second in two hours, 54 minutes and 46 seconds. American Mary Akor was the first female to complete the gruelling Freeport to Port of Spain course but was disqualified due to a registration issue.
A TTIM official explained that Akor, who won the race in 2013 but was stripped of the title for a doping offence, was wearing a bib with a number not attributed to her. The official noted that Akor had previously not registered properly for the race.
Trinidadian Tonya Nero was the female runner-up in 2:56:33 while 54 year old Christine Regis, also of TT, was third in a personal best time of three hours, 26 minutes and 10 seconds.
Nero, who ran over 10 minutes slower than her personal best, wasn't pleased at the end of the race as she was aiming to qualify for the World Championships.
A determined Nero promised though to "take another shot" at running under two hours, 45 minutes in another marathon in order to qualify.
In the men's category, there was no stopping 30 year old Venezuelan Jose Alejandro Varela Velazco who obliterated the field in two hours, 37 minutes and 51 seconds.
Trailing in second place and representing for the host nation was TT's Curtis Cox (2:41:43) while Kenyan Peter Kemboi (2:46:16) followed in third.
After his victory, Velazco said he was just happy to have won.
Cox, however, admitted to have ran the race with a niggling Achilles tendon injury. He said he was surprised to have been leading the marathon in the first half but began losing pace which cost him the lead. Cox, 49, who ran in his 29th TTIM continued: "Unfortunately I was hoping to end my last TTIM with a victory, because I have hopes of competing in the Boston (and) New York marathon in the near future." Cox left a disclaimer, though, noting that if he secures adequate sponsorship in the future he will consider competing in his 30th TTIM next year.
In the relay leg of the marathon, Richard Jones Racing Team #1 edged Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force for first place, followed by Coast Guard's "Bravo" finishing in third place.
In the school's relay category it was the young men of Youth Training Centre (YTC) crossing the line first followed by Couva Secondary School and St Joseph's Convent Port of Spain respectively.
President of the Trinidad and Tobago's Olympic Committee (TTOC), Brian Lewis, who ran in his third TTIM, was in high spirits about participating in the race alongside media personalities Sunny Bling, Andre Errol Baptiste, Nigel Baptiste, Tony Lee etc. Lewis, who is seeking to raise funds for the TTOC athlete welfare and preparation fund, was pleased with the addition of the relay leg in this year's marathon.
"I will encourage anyone to participate in marathons as it is an excellent addition to one's resume and more importantly it encourages health and wellness and can be used as a major form of tourism as a mass participation event.". Accompanying the TTOC was renowned flag bearer Joey "Posh" Richardson who was stern in saying "youths put down the gun and pick up a flag".
In a race that was designed to accommodate the amateurs as well as the professionals with two different start times, amateurs were granted the opportunity to start at 3.30am while the more competitive runners took off at 5am. The athletes made their way from St Mary's junction in Freeport start and went along the Eastern Main Road into the capital city of Port of Spain, with the finish line at the Queen's Park Savannah.
At around 7am, hundreds gathered in the "marathon village" to witness this momentous race and to cheer on their fellow clubmates and countrymen. Most notably was President Anthony Carmona who was at the finish line to congratulate his wife Reema Carmona who competed and completed the marathon. The marathon featured approximately 300 local, regional and international athletes both male and female, who all had to endure and overcome extremely hot and humid weather conditions on the day.