By Thomas Odongo
Ugandan long distance runners Joshua Cheptegei and Stellla Chesang on Sunday emerged winners at the NN Marathon in Nijmegen, Netherlands oldest city.
Also dubbed the NN ZevenHeuvenloop, Cheptegei emerged champion at the men’s heat with a winning time of 41:04.
Cheptegei’s heroics mean that he breaks a 15km world record at the same do because the previous record was a winning time of 41:13 – hence Cheptegei takes just nine seconds of the world’s best.
Chesang led at the women’s heat with a winning time of 47:19 while Kenya’s Evaline Chirchir finished second with a winning time of 47:35 and Susan Krumins of the Netherlands was third just six seconds behind Chirchir.
Ahead of the games, Cheptegei held his shoulders high for he was the last edition’s title holder and his status ahead of the race alongside his adequate training at the high altitude Kapchorwa region was enough to set him up for the gold medal.
Cheptegei also 10,000m world silver medalist took an early lead as his fellow pacemakers struggled to mark his footsteps. He passed the first five kilometers in 14:07 but increased his pace and covered the next five kilometer section in 13:42 to ascend to 10 kilometers in 27:49.
‘’The last kilometer was hard but I really enjoyed it. I am very proud of my achievement and want to thank the organization of my team,’’ he told reporters after the marathon.
Cheptegei, also 2018 double Commonwealth gold medalist maintained his pace and in the final third he had to increase the steam in his 'engine'. After all the efforts, he crossed the finish line with a winning time of 41:04.
Arar Osman from Ethiopia finished second far a bit with a winning time of 42:34, 22 seconds ahead of Muktar Edris also world 5000m champion.