NDN HALF MARATHON: Kenya's Kurgat breezes to men's title in 25th anniversary race

NDN Half Marathon 2013

Over 2,000 took part in this year's ...

Overall Men

Top 10

1. Kiprono Kurgat 1:03:37.7

2. Ernest Kebenei 1:05:24.5

3. Eric Chirchir 1:05:54.2

4. Ahmed Osman 1:06:08.6

5. Tyler McCandless 1:06:15.9

6. Fidele Jefferson 1:06.43.6

7. Anthony Famiglietti 1:08:09.2

8. Oscar Ogward 1:09:41.1

9. Jonny Wilson 1:09:57.5

10. Malcolm Campbell 1:10:33.0

— With his closest rival still coming back from injury, Kiprono Kurgat wasted no time breaking away from the pack in the Naples Daily News Half Marathon.

The 23-year-old Kenyan led the entire way Sunday in the 25th running of the race in downtown Naples. At about the halfway point – Mile 7 of the 13.1-mile race – Kurgat really turned it on.

“I said, ‘It’s time to go,’” said Kurgat, a professional runner in his third half marathon.

Kurgat went all the way to the finish line, well ahead of the rest of his male competitors. Kurgat won the men’s race in 1 hour, 3 minutes and 37.7 seconds, almost two minutes ahead of second place.

Full 2013 results

With a personal-best time, Kurgat missed the Half Marathon record of 1:03:12. His mark was the second fastest time since the record was set in 2000.

“I’m so happy with (my race),” Kurgat said. “So happy. The course was so flat. I didn’t expect to win, but I expected a good time.”

Sunday’s silver anniversary race was the largest field yet. A record 2,036 runners registered for the event, recently named one of the top half marathons in the country by Runner’s World magazine.

After a chilly race last year when temperatures dipped near 40, runners were greeted with more moderate conditions this year. The thermometer read 64 degrees at the start of the race with little breeze and cloudy skies.

Kurgat topped one of his countrymen in take the title. Ernest Kebenei, 28, finished second in 1:05:24.5. The 1 minute, 47 second gap is the largest margin of victory since 2006.

Kebenei said he knows Kurgat well. The Kenyans have raced many times in the past, and the second-place finisher said he usually gets the best of Kurgat.

“He’s never beaten me,” Kebenei said with a smile. “I’m not surprised because I have an injury.”

Still coming back from a lower leg injury two months ago, Kebenei said he isn’t ready to run a full 13.1 miles just yet. He pulled up around the eighth mile, he said, to prevent from reinjuring the leg.

Kurgat and Kebenei spend half the year at home in Kenya and half training in the United States. Kurgat trains in Chapel Hill, N.C., while Kebenei is based in Durango, Colo.

Kenyan’s swept the top three spots with Eric Chirchir finishing third in 1:05:54.2. Chirchir won the Harrisburg (Pa.) Half Marathon in September, and was second in the Anthem Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, Va., in March.

Golden Gate’s Alejandro Pedraza, who won the Class 2A state cross country title in November, won the Boys 13-18 Division in 1:16:14.8.

Much of the buzz in this year’s men’s race surrounded two-time Olympian Anthony Famiglietti. Feeling under the weather, the 34-year-old steeplechase competitor finished seventh in 1:08:09.2.

Famiglietti and his wife, Karen, came to Naples from North Carolina to visit a family member. During his travel, Famiglietti said he picked up a virus. The six-time national champion said he spent the early part of Sunday morning in the bathroom vomiting.

“I felt pretty ill,” Famiglietti said. “When you feel that way you just have to tough it out. With the humidity the way it is, I was probably already a little dehydrated. I felt like I should have dropped out. I stopped once to kind of get my bearings, then I toughed it out to the end.”

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