Komon, Abate Win Zayed Run in NY

  • 14 May 2013

Kenya’s Leonard Patrick Komon who won The UAE Healthy Kidney 10-km run in New York for the second straight year, feels changes to the Central Park course cost him the chance of setting a new record on Saturday. The women’s race was won by New York-based Ethiopian Aziza Aliyu Abate, who came home in 34:34, 16 seconds ahead of compatriot Hirut Beyene Guangui, but well short of her personal best.

As expected, Africans dominated the head of the field, with seven of the top eight coming from the continent. Some 5,851 runners completed the race on a humid morning, including Shaikh Zayed bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, and Shaikh Saqr bin Saud Al Qasimi, the son of the Ras Al Khaimah ruler.

Held under the patronage of General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the marathon was launched in the presence of Dr Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi, Director General of Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, members of diplomatic missions, artists, cultural personalities, athletes and tens of thousands of runners from the USA and abroad.

Shaikh Zayed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the sports event reflects the humanitarian works the UAE is undertaking under the leadership of the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and support of Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed in funding research centres specialising in treatment of children suffering from kidney diseases.

“The marathon is growing in size and stature year after year thanks to the UAE leadership’s support for humanitarian initiatives,” he added. Meanwhile, Komon, leading throughout claimed victory in 27 minutes 58 seconds, four seconds ahead of Uganda’s Moses Kipsiro, who pipped Kenya’s Stephen Sambu to the runner-up spot after an exciting battle. However, Komon missed out on the $30,000 Zayed bonus for breaking the course record of 27:35 he set when winning the race in 2011. The Healthy Kidney event honours former UAE President Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Next year will be the 10th staging of the race and UAE delegate Lieutenant General Mohammed Hilal Al Kaabi, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Armed Forces Officers Club, announced on Saturday that the Zayed bonus would be increased to $50,000 to celebrate the landmark. And 25-year-old Komon hopes to be back to make up for missing out on the bonus this year, a media communique said on Sunday. “I lost a little bit of time because the course changed – it’s not like the one I won on before. Going anti-clockwise is not normal, so today it was very hard for me to do that,” he said.

“But anyway I’m happy for the result. It was more difficult but I’m still happy. I was thinking [I might break the record] but it didn’t happen. I was thinking when I was coming that I was going to attempt it, but when I arrived here I heard the course had changed, so it made my ambitions fall away. I started to feel tired around the 8km mark. But I’m now familiar with the new course so next year I will be prepared to try and win the bonus. I enjoy this race so much, I enjoy it because of the people in this city – they love sports and they love Africans. I feel happy, not only to win but also to stay here in New York.”

Women’s distance ace Aziza said: “The time was not good because of the conditions. My personal best is 32:36, but it was tough here because of the rain and how slippery it was. I’ve run this race before but the course seemed a bit tougher this time, which I had anticipated as they changed it around this year.” Meanwhile, three Australians – Collis Birmingham (5th in 28:29), Ben St. Lawrence (10th in 29:00) and Brett Robinson (12th in 29:38) – finished well up the field, and veteran Meb Keflezighi was the best US runner in ninth place.

The run was 2009 New York City Marathon champion Keflezighi’s first competitive race since finishing fourth in the marathon at last year’s London Olympic Games. Runner-up Kipsiro, 26, said: “The race was really good. I was feeling good throughout the race, so I’m happy. To begin with I was far, far back. These guys, at the start line, they moved very fast and I was 200m back. I was catching them slowly. It’s very difficult to catch up. And this guy (Sambu), I passed him and then he passed me back, he was tough.” Sambu added: “The race was tough. He (Komon) got in front and I pushed and pushed but I could not keep up the pace.”