They came, they ran, and they set a record.
In total, more than 8000 runners competed in the Yoma Yangon International Marathon 2017 yesterday, which started just before dawn at Thuwunna Stadium.
Participants were spread across four different races, including a full marathon, half marathon, 10 kilometre challenge and three kilometre fun run/walk. Routes took the runners throughout urban and suburban Yangon, offering views of Shwedagon Pagoda and the Yangon River along the way.
In the men’s full marathon, Kenya’s Joseph Gitau Kariuki won for an unprecedented fifth straight year, posting a time of 02:34:28. Though nearly 10 minutes slower than his blistering pace last year, Kariuki’s time still bested second place runner Thaung Aye from Myanmar (02:45:13) by nearly 11 minutes and won him US$2700 in prize money.
He wasn’t the only Kenyan to repeat at the podium, as Valentine Jepkemoi Serem won the women’s full for the second year straight with a time of 03:07:36. In total, Kenyans won five of the six divisions, with only Thidar Oo from Myanmar taking a first place prize. Hers came in the 10 kilometre challenge, where she finished in 42:01.
Still, it was the best marathon ever for local runners, with at least one Myanmar national placing in every event. Organised by First Myanmar Investment (FMI) and Yangon City Development Committee, the marathon raises money for charities that work with underprivileged children. In years past, these have included Su Taung Pyae Youth Development Centre in Thanlyn Township, Yangon and the YCDC Non-Profit Child Day Care Centre for Low Income Citizens.