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After 25-hour trip, Kenyan arrives to rule CamSur

PILI, Camarines Sur, Philippines – He flew thousands of miles from Kenya and rode the bus from Manila just to get here.

Nathan Naibei yesterday made sure it was worth the trip.

“It took me 25 hours to get here. I took the plane and rode the bus nine hours ,” said the 25-year-old native of Eldoret, hometown to numerous legendary runners from Kenya.

“But not bad,” he added.

Not bad at all after Naibei ruled the second Summit Water Camsur Marathon which started and ended at the sprawling and fun-filled Camsur Watersports Complex.

For winning the country’s biggest marathon ever, the lanky Naibei won the top prize of P125,000 or roughly equivalent to $2,800.

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Just two months ago, he won a marathon in Thailand and brought home $4,000.

“This is my first marathon in Manila,” said Naibei, who breasted the finish line, before a huge, cheering crowd, in two hours, 25 minutes, 14 seconds.

“I will come back,” he added before getting up onstage to receive his award from Camsur Gov. L-Ray Villafuerte.

Naibei said he had informed his family, including his two kids, of his victory by text message, and “they were happy.”

Naibei said he started running when he was nine years old, and the last couple of years have been so productive he was able to put up a small building in Eldoret, and he rents it out.

“I will use my winnings here to make improvements on the building,” he said.

Finishing second and third with their times of 2:29:17 and 2:30:17 were James Tallani and Hailemosiam Kahsay. Kenyan runners also swept the top three places last year

Tallani and Hailemosiam won P90,000 and P50,000 for second and P50,000, respectively.

In the women’s side of the elite category, Rose Jepkembol Chesire of Kenya won in 2:50:26 followed by a pair of local runners that made the host, Camsur Gov. L-Ray Villafuerte, proud.

Ailene Tolentino was second in 3:12:39 while Cynthia Jaro came in third in 3:20:17. They also got P125,000, P90,000 and P50,000, respectively, for their feats.

Organizers of this race that drew a total of 21,000 participants offered the same amount in prizes for the locals led by Eric Panique of Antipolo who ruled the men’s side in 2:28:03.

He was followed by Mendel Lopez in 2:34:11 and veteran marathoner and multi-titled Cris Sabal who crossed the finish inside the Camsur Watersports Complex in 2:35:03.

In the distaff side of the 42 km race for locals, Mary Grace delos Santos reigned supreme with her 2:59:53. Second was Monalisa Ambasa (3:15:17) and third Miscelle Gilbuena (3:31:27).

“It’s good that we now share the same prize with the Kenyans. Otherwise, it all goes to them,” said Delos Santos.

The runners in the full marathon were flagged off promptly at 4 a.m., amid a great fireworks display, and shortly after the participants in the 21K, 10K, 5K and 3K side events took their turns.

For each of the participant, Villafuerte said 10 trees will be planted, meaning in the coming days they will plant 210,000 trees as part of the El Verde program and this year’s theme “Race to a Green Philippines.”

In the men’s 21K event, Mikael Kahsay of Ethiopia emerged the winner at 1:10:57 followed by Kenya’s Benjamin Kipkazi (1:11:34) and Kering Eluid (1:11:49).

In the women’s side, it was Genet Agtew, also of Ethiopia, towing the field in 1:22:22. Local girl Mary Joy Tabal was second in 1:24:31 followed by Kenya’s Rhoda Chelrikui in 1:25:10.

For the local 21K, Brian Lupio of Team Phoenix won in 1:15:54 followed by Gerald Sabal of Manila (1:16:02) and Alquin Bolivar of the Philippine Army (1:16:14).

In the women’s side, Flordeliz Donos of Baguio showed the way in 1:26:57, Luisa Raterta of Sta. Rosa, Laguna in 1:30:12 and Maricil Maquilan of Manila in 1:36:02.

Overall winners in the 21K took home P40,000 for first, P30,000 for second and P20,000 for third. In the local 21K, prizes were P20,000, P15,000 and P10,000, respectively.

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