A first for Kenyan winners at Standard Chartered Marathon
Maisei triumphs on his Singapore debut while female compatriot Changeywo wins in her first marathon
For the third year running, December has proved to be the month of great cheer for Julius Kiplimo Maisei.
Having won the Macau Marathon around this time in the past two years, the Kenyan continued his winning streak yesterday when he won the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2015.
Maisei crossed the line with a timing of 2hr 17min 26sec to finish six seconds ahead of compatriot Chelimo Luka Kipkemoi, while fellow Kenyan Barnaba Kibii was a further six seconds behind in third place.
As expected, Kenya dominated proceedings by providing the 12 fastest finishers, as well as 19 of the top 22 in all the categories combined.
Although he is no stranger to winning marathons, Maisei revealed it had not been easy to cap off his debut in Singapore with victory.
"I am very happy to be the winner of the Singapore marathon in 2015 in my first time here," said the 30-year-old.
"The race was very difficult because it was extremely humid, especially along the river, and I wasn't expecting to win.
"But when it came to the point where there were only three of us left, I decided to try my best.
"My friend told me there is a slope at 38km, so when I reached it, I tried my luck and no one was following me so I continued to push and push.
"I am very happy with 2:17 because you can't expect to run much faster than that in this humidity."
There was also plenty of joy for Kenya in the female category, although there was quite a shock as Doris Chepkwemoi Changeywo crossed the finishing line first with a time of 2:44:26, in what was her first-ever marathon.
When asked by The New Paper what was the inspiration behind her remarkable triumph, there was nary a moment of hesitation from her.
"My special people are my daughter and my boy and I want to thank my family, especially my husband (fellow Kenyan athlete Moses Masai) for giving me good training," she said.
"Even after I crossed the finish line, I couldn't believe that I had won and I kept looking behind me… When I saw they were still following me, I knew I had won.
"It was a bit difficult because it's a new race for me, and the weather was terrible for me.
"I was telling myself to just finish the race because I wasn't even thinking about winning, so that's why I'm so happy to be the winner."
Meanwhile, Mok Ying Ren was once again the fastest Singaporean after clocking a time of 2:43:06, while Neo Jie Shi finished top of the women's local category, as well as 10th overall, with a time of 3:15:06.
Having endured a wretched time with injuries, including a freak training accident that has permanently left him with a tear in his right retina, Mok is determined to get back to his best in his bid to qualify for next year's Rio Olympic Games.
"I'm in pretty good shape," said the 2013 SEA Games gold medallist.
"I just need to get back to consistent work, try not to get injured and I'll be trying for the Olympic Games probably in March.
"There's no secret to running… It's about being consistent and trying your best not to get injured.
"I'm quite happy with my performance. I was actually back to visit family and friends and I thought I would just take part in Singapore's biggest running event since I'm back, and it's always a great pleasure."