THE target for two Kenyans standing on the start line for the 2022 Jersey Marathon was clear: win, and break the course record.
It was an ambition that would have brought additional prize money for the elite duo, who use marathon running to support their families, but ultimately both the men’s and women’s marks remained unbeaten yesterday morning and are now safe for another 12 months.
Lydia Wafula came agonisingly close to adding a £1,000 bonus to the £2,500 she claimed as race winner, though. The 34-year-old crossed the line at the Weighbridge just 28 seconds adrift of French-Russian Svetlana Prétot’s 2013 marathon-winning time of 2hr 44min 33sec.
The conditions were perhaps not as favourable as they would have liked, with a combination of early rain and persistent gusts serving to increase the intensity of the challenge, but victory for Wafula and men’s champion Bosuben Kipkemoi was hardly in doubt.
Wafula finished a full 37 minutes clear of her nearest rival, Jersey’s Sam Lee, while Kipkemoi stormed clear of Frenchman Guillaume Ruel with 22 of the 26.2 miles still to go. He would go on to clock 2.21.09, with Ruel coming home ten minutes later.
The runners-up claimed £1,500 each as part of a £12,000 prize pot offered by event supporters Standard Chartered, with third-place duo Chantelle Frazier and Steven Gray collecting £1,000 apiece.
In the Ravenscroft Relay, FCM Jersey Spartans Boys claimed top spot in 3.11.10, ahead of Rock and Road Runners and IHE Civil Works, in second and third respectively.
Kipkemoi, who was hoping to beat fellow Kenyan Barnabus Kipyego’s record time of 2.17.09, said: ‘The course was very tough. It was slippery, muddy and at some points it was raining. I tried to run the course record but it was so difficult.’
That said, the 34-year-old was still pleased with his performance.
‘But I’m not disappointed at all. I’m very happy because I won. This is my first race since Covid-19, so it was a good comeback.
‘I am going to run the Yorkshire Marathon later this month and I want to win that too. I enjoy visiting different places in the world and winning races, because running is my job.’
Eighteen minutes back, Gray claimed his second Mitch Couriard Award as the fastest Jersey runner, having also taken the accolade in 2019. However, his effort this time was considerably better and he claimed third overall in 2.39.57 – three seconds inside the qualifying time for the London Marathon.
‘I was hoping to get as close to 2.40 as I could and I’ve just snuck under it,’ he said.
‘I’ve done this a few times now, so I know the course, but it was still tough going. It’s always a good race, though. I enjoy it.’
Meanwhile, former Island Games triathlete Lee exceeded her expectations – beating her personal best by a whopping 20 minutes with a time of 3.23.16.
‘I never thought I would get lower than 3.30,’ she said. ‘It feels amazing.
‘I was always in front of the 3.30 pacer and then around St Ouen there were three other people, so I just followed them. Then I lost them as well.
‘Chantelle [Frazier] was in front of me all the way. It was only by La Frégate at the end that I got her.
‘Last year I got really bad cramp at the Airport and it was awful, whereas I felt good all the way this year.’
After the long-distance runners had been sent on their way at 9am and 9.30am, making their way west, the JDC Marathon Mile provided a shorter option for athletes of all ages.
Les Quennevais teenager Rory Baines, entered in the 12-15 age-group, led the field with a superb five-minute-flat performance – a full 35 seconds clear of 9-11 winner and overall runner-up Teddy Wilson. Myles Christopher claimed third in 5.41.
Beaulieu student Isla Hall [12-15] won the female race in 5.36, beating JCG’s Siena Stephens by just one second. Florence Williams [9-11] claimed third in 5.45.