Third time lucky for Kenyan in Hong Kong Marathon

Ethiopian Demissie first woman to retain the title, but misses out on another record-breaking performance

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 February, 2013, 11:43am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 February, 2013, 8:20pm

It was third time lucky for Kenya’s Julius Maisei who won the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon showpiece on Sunday. After missing out narrowly in the past two years, Maisei said he had learned from his mistakes to win in a time of two hour, 14 minutes and 18 seconds.

In second place was another Kenyan, James Mbugua (2:14:28), while Ethiopia’s Deribe Robi was third (2:14:37).

“I made the mistake of making my move too early in the last two years and my opponents caught me and overtook me. This time I changed my tactics and made certain I timed my break better and then went all for it,” said the 32-year-old Maisei, who could hardly stand at the end of the 42.195-kilometre race.

Maisei’s time was well short of the mark set last year by Ethiopian Dereje Abera of 2:11:27.

SCMP video by Chris Luo

“It was tough out there. It is not easy running inside a tunnel for almost three kilometres and the course is very hilly. Hong Kong is a hard race,” he said.

It is not easy running inside a tunnel for almost three kilometres and the course is very hilly
Julius Maisei

Thirty-seven runners were taken to hospital and two admitted to intensive care, but Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association chairman Kwan Kee said they had regained consciousness.

He also said only 600 participants received medical attention on the course, down from last year’s 951 cases.

Of the record 72,000 entries in the marathon, half marathon and 10km events, 7,000 failed to show up.

Ethiopian Misiker Demissie became the first woman to retain the Hong Kong title, but narrowly missed out on another record-breaking performance.

Demissie, who smashed the record in winning in 2012, finished in 2:30.49, 37 seconds outside last year’s time.

“It was a bit more windy than last year, which is probably the reason I went a bit slower, although I like racing in those conditions, it was good,” said the 26-year-old.

Demissie took home a life-changing US$85,000 from 2012’s race – US$50,000 for winning plus US$35,000 in bonuses and breaking the record – and though she missed out on the record bonus, she still heads back to her base in the United States US$62,000 richer (US$57,000 for winning and US$5,000 for finishing under 2:32:00). No wonder she likes coming here.

“I love the people, everybody’s really nice and they take care of you well. The course really seems to suit me and I’ll definitely be coming back next year and looking to win again.”

In the women’s half marathon, Yiu Kit-ching made it back-to-back victories but still walked from the course shaking her head and claiming she got her race plan wrong.

“I’m not really as happy as I should be,” said Yiu, who won in a time of 1:20:47. “I wanted to beat 1:20 so I went out and was aggressive from the start. But I just went too fast at the beginning and that affected my time at the end. I was getting tired.”

The 24-year-old wasn’t showing any ill effects as she crossed the line well ahead of Hong Kong-based Australian Jane Hodgskin (1:25:11) and Hong Kong’s Sarah Cheung Hoi-wah (1:25:57).

Japan’s Yuta Koyama took the men’s half-marathon title on his debut in Hong Kong, despite being taken aback by the course.

“It was hard because of the change of elevation,” he said after finishing in 1:08.49, well ahead of Hong Kong’s Thomas Kiprotich (1:11.23). “This is the first time I’ve run the race so it was a bit of a surprise to me.”

Koyama was also taken aback by the record numbers of participants on the course, a completely new experience for him.

“In terms of numbers of people this is the biggest race I’ve ever been to. There’s not many big races in Japan,” he said. “When the 10k and the half marathon joined together, it was a great atmosphere with all the people around. The number of people is amazing.”

I was in a lot of pain after falling but I used it to motivate myself
Joyce Cheung Ting-yan

In the women’s elite 10km, Joyce Cheung Ting-yan survived a nasty fall that resulted in a battered and bruised right knee to win a rough and tumble race and then summed up the reason for her success in two simple words: “I’m tough.”

The sometime runner-sometime triathlete overcame a pile-up just after the start to win in 39:32 and credited her ability to overcome the pain that followed her fall to a tough training schedule.

“I was in a lot of pain after falling but I used it to motivate myself,” said Cheung, who finished in front of local runners Heidi Yu Wing-hay (39:42), and Kong Lai-ming (39:59). 

Australian architect Clinton Mackevkius won the men’s 10km elite category by easily holding off last year’s winner, Chan Ka-ho. Mackevkius registered a time of 31 minutes and 54 seconds to finish nearly a minute in front of Chan. In third place was Stefano Passarello.

“My mum passed away last week and this race was for her,” said Mackevkius. “I have been coming to Hong Kong on and off for the past three years because my girlfriend lives here.

“I love it and the race was superb and well organised. It is also well-known around the world and a few of my friend were coming here to race so I joined them.”

SCMP video by Chris Luo