Stomach upset slows Kenyan ace in half

KEVIN TUTTY
Last updated 05:00 04/06/2012

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Scoffing chocolate on Saturday night could have ended Kenyan Kip Kemei's attempt to run his fastest half marathon yesterday.

Kemei flew away from the start of the Christchurch Airport half marathon, but just before the halfway stage he had an upset stomach which slowed him down for a few minutes.

"I think it might have been some chocolate I ate last night and that I didn't take any water during the race," Kemei said.

But he soon recovered and was quickly back to maximum speed.

The 21-year-old took off at the start so quickly that the other males in the half marathon were left in his dust. Runner-up Stephen Lett said he didn't spot the Kenyan until a little loop in the course just past the halfway point.

"He was probably a couple of minutes ahead of me at that stage," Lett said.

Kemei wanted to better his best time of 1hr 4min 23sec set in Kenya, but the chocolate episode delayed him enough to ensure he missed that time. He won the half marathon in 1hr 5min 1sec, 38sec off his best.

"I am disappointed because I was trying to run 63min but I was not able too because of my stomach trouble and the headwind."

Just before the start of the race a brisk northwest wind blew up.

"It was hard running into it in the first 10km," Kemei said.

The wind just as quickly dropped away.

In spite of the stomach trouble Kemei was happy to win the race, his fourth half marathon success since arriving in the country in February. His other wins were in the Wellington Round the Bays, Rotorua and Huntly.

The women's half marathon was won by Lisa Robertson, a young woman who is successfully juggling three careers – running, working part-time for the police and being an apprentice jockey.

Robertson, who discovered her athletic ability four years ago when she was running to get her weight down for riding, ran her best half marathon time of 1hr 15min 35sec.

It was a creditable effort considering she was up at 4am on Saturday to do her training before starting her race day commitments at 6am, which included a ride in the sixth race at the Auckland Jockey Club's meeting at Ellerslie.

From there it was a quick ride to Auckland Airport to catch a flight to Christchurch only to be delayed two hours, finally arriving in Christchurch at 9pm.

Yesterday's race was Robertson's first for five weeks after running the Nagano marathon on April 15 and the Rotorua marathon on April 28. She ran in Nagano in a bid to qualify for the London Olympic team.

"But my legs blew out at about 26km. I finished it but the time was no good and it's taken me a while to recover from those two races. I'm just getting back on track," Robertson said.

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Robertson, 29, sat behind runner-up Sarah Biss (Rotorua) for a good part of the race yesterday, but passed her after 14km.

"I thought I might have overtaken her too soon but at the end of the day I wasn't running for a place, I was running for the time so I had to go," Robertson said.

- The Press

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