THERE might have only been five elite athletes at the 2023 instalment of the Standard Chartered Jersey Marathon, but the man wearing number one secured victory in record-breaking fashion.
The Kenyan duo of Nathan Kioko and Ezekiel Kiptoo had a tense individual battle throughout, but it was the former who crossed the line first, in a time of 2hr 16min 03sec, over a full minute quicker than his countryman Barnabas Kipyego’s record from 2019.
Along with the £2,500 prize for first place, Kioko bagged an additional £1,000 bonus for eclipsing Kipyego’s time.
Kiptoo finished 1min 35sec behind his training partner, with both confessing, “we didn’t think a record time was possible.”
He took home £1,500 for second spot.
There were more storylines in the women’s race, as Islander Antoinette Kyriacou took the victory in 3hr 03min 46sec.
In the absence of any elite female athletes in the field, there was an expectation that a local could take the title, and Kyriacou duly obliged, claiming the £2,500 prize money.
While conditions were dry, unlike in 2022, runners faced surprisingly warm weather for this time of year.
Kioko said: “It is probably my best achievement in the sport.
“The course is quite hilly and not necessarily something we are used to. It adds a different element to the race.”
Frenchman Guillaume Ruel, the runner-up from last year, had high hopes to challenge
the Kenyan duo.
However, they dropped him prior to 15 miles and never looked back, creating a contest between themselves for overall honours.
“Me and Ezekiel train regularly together, so we know each other’s running well,” added Kioko.
“We pushed ourselves well and fortunately, I managed to pull away towards the end, but it was a great tussle throughout.”
Meanwhile, Kyriacou, who represented Jersey in the Island Games over the summer, said that ‘winning didn’t really enter my mind.’
“We usually have elite athletes in these races, so I don’t think it was really something I was aiming for,” she said. “It has been a long season for me, so I knew below three hours would probably not be possible, but I was really happy with that effort.
“The hills make it really tough, so Jersey’s marathon is always a little more difficult comparatively.
“I got into the lead near Les Quennevais and from there it is a scary place to be.
“You are concerned that someone will overtake you and you are not really sure what the gap is.
“I always run for personal achievements and not too much about wins.It was just really nice to claim the top spot along with the personal feelings of pride.
Elsewhere, winner of the Mitch Couriard Award
for the top Jersey finisher was James Manners, who incredibly nursed an injury for the last nine miles.
He said: “I tweaked my calf with around nine miles to go. I thought my day was over, I couldn’t put much weight on it.
“I walked for a bit and decided to carry on and try and finish.
“To get a personal best and be top Jersey finisher given that is incredible.
“My forte is ultra marathons, so putting my body through the pain barrier is pretty standard.
“You just have to fight all the negative thoughts going through your head and I did that well today.”
Full results to follow.