By Myles Edwards in Iten, Kenya.
As most people in the UK rose from their beds this Sunday morning, 36 Kenyans lined up to take part in the first ever BodyHelix Mile in Iten, Kenya.
Excitement was high in the build up to the big race at The Kamariny Stadium, home of distance running champions. Both men’s and women’s races had to be delayed by 1 hour due to heavy rain overnight, which had made the famous dirt track more like a cross country course than a platform for some of the world’s best athletes to perform. Undeterred, the athletes still went on to impressively produce some scintillating performances.
Maggie Masai outsprinted her training partner, Phenencia Chemtai to win The BodyHelix Mile women’s race in a time of 5 minutes 0.1 seconds, beating her lifelong friend by 0.4 seconds. With a track session of 6 x 800m two days previously and a long run of 1 hour 20 minutes less than 24 hours before the race, both athletes had not planned on competing until a last minute change of heart. It is not only this that makes their victory so impressive but also the fact that they had been sipping tea and eating the famous Kenyan food of chapatti only 20 minutes beforehand. In a time of 5 minutes 23.5 seconds, Monica Chebet came home to scoop third place and the final cash prize.
Speaking after the race with Maggie, the younger sister of 2009 World 10,000m champion Linet Masai, she said:
“The preparation was not how we would normally warm up for a race but I was ok and still felt strong. I am very happy to win this race but I will not be preparing like that ever again.”
The inaugural men’s BodyHelix Mile saw large numbers of athletes line up to try and scoop the title. The field was packed with talent and it was 3 minutes 37 second 1500 metre runner, Raymond Choge who emerged victorious, outsprinting his compatriot, James Kangogo to win by 2 seconds in a time of 4 minutes 13.9 seconds. Alex Lagat came home to scoop the bronze medal in a time of 4 minutes 17.3 seconds.
Coached by the explosive combination of Gabriele Nicola, Renato Canova and Joseph Cheromai, Raymond looked in great shape as he crossed the line to complete his first ever mile race. He gave some insight into what the victory meant to him:
“It is a very good feeling to win the BodyHelix Mile. I thank god for giving me the strength to win and beat some very good athletes who I was fearing slightly beforehand. I was tired from a track session yesterday of 3x600m, 3x300m, 3x400m but I worked very hard to secure the victory.”
Race organiser Myles Edwards, Liaison Manager for BodyHelix in Kenya said:
“It was a truly spectacular occasion and really enjoyable to see the smiling faces of athletes who won prize money that will make a big difference to their lives. Having trained here myself for 6 of the past 9 months, it fantastic to give something back to the community in Iten, Kenya and this would not have been possible without the BodyHelix team’s input.
“The race would not have occurred were it not for the phenomenal support of world renowned physiotherapist, Jeroen Deen who’s impressive efforts made everything run smoothly. Thanks must also go to Dan Mulhare of Run Kenya and the local children who filmed and photographed the race, with the latter also creating posters to advertise the event over the past couple of weeks.
“I look forward to being part of this event for years to come and seeing it evolve into something truly special at the heart of the distance running world here in Iten, Kenya.”