Hongkonger upstages champion Kiprotich
Defending champion Thomas Kiprotich had his hands full during the half-marathon - and after it finished trying to keep his young son, Noah, on a leash. It was a losing cause on both occasions.
Kiprotich, Hong Kong's top runner, met his match at the hands of leading local ace Gi Ka-man, who upstaged the Kenyan in resounding style, winning by a huge 35-second margin. It was the first time Gi, 28, had won the half-marathon. He had run this race on eight previous occasions and failed.
'I handled the conditions well. It was pretty humid and possibly the other runners struggled a bit. I'm surprised to win, especially to beat Thomas, but it is a fantastic feeling to win my first half-marathon,' said the overjoyed Gi.
Kiprotich, a regular face on the local running scene, denied the sapping conditions had been his downfall. Instead he looked down to his new shoes, and sighed.
'I bought them last night and maybe it might have not been the best decision to wear them today. But the shoes I had were in such a bad state I decided I needed a new pair,' Kiprotich said.
Friend and confidant Angelina Kong tut-tutted. 'You are such an experienced runner and you should know never to use a new pair on a race day,' said Kong, who had figured prominently in the women's 10 kilometre race, finishing top of her age group.
Despite new shoes and all, Kiprotich battled all the way until Gi pulled away in the final stretch. He finished in one hour, nine minutes and 44 seconds with Kiprotich second in 1:10:19. Aboye Daniel Haile, from Ethiopia, was third in 1:14:34.
'I knew this would be my best opportunity to beat Thomas as he has not been in his best form and hasn't been training as much,' Gi said. 'It is really satisfying to beat him and I guess this is one of my best moments.'
Kiprotich, who set a new record in winning the half-marathon last year (1:07:14), put it down to a bad day at the office.
'I struggled, especially in the [Western Harbour] Tunnel and as soon as I came out I had a bad stitch in my side. It wasn't my day,' said Kiprotich, who has started up a new business called 'Kip Movin', where he coaches people on the art of running.
In addition, Noah also needs his dad's attention, proving yesterday he can be a handful for both dad and mum Nerida.
'It is wonderful with Noah, but he needs a lot of attention,' said Kiprotich. 'Last year, I ran this race and then straight from here I rushed to the hospital where Nerida was due to give birth. Noah celebrates his birthday on February 21, which was the day after last year's marathon.'
A wife in labour gave Kiprotich wings last year. This time around, life didn't pose any real urgency. And Gi took his chance to turn the tables on Kiprotich after finishing second last year.
'I'm so happy. I have been waiting a long time to win this race,' Gi said.