NDN Half Marathon: Kiprono Kurgat is first man to win two straight races since 1995

Corey Perrine/Staff 
Kiprono Kurgat crosses first Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 in downtown Naples. More than 2,500 racers competed in the 26th Annual Naples Daily News Half Marathon (13.1094 miles) starting on 5th Avenue and concluding at Cambier Park. Kiprono Kurgat of Chapel Hill, N.C. had the fastest male time in 1:04:01.4 and Caroline Rotich in 1:09:57.8 of Colombus, Ohio had the overall female time.

Photo by COREY PERRINE // Buy this photo

Corey Perrine/Staff Kiprono Kurgat crosses first Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 in downtown Naples. More than 2,500 racers competed in the 26th Annual Naples Daily News Half Marathon (13.1094 miles) starting on 5th Avenue and concluding at Cambier Park. Kiprono Kurgat of Chapel Hill, N.C. had the fastest male time in 1:04:01.4 and Caroline Rotich in 1:09:57.8 of Colombus, Ohio had the overall female time.

2014 Naples Daily News Half Marathon

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After dominating last year’s Naples Daily News Half Marathon and winning an elite race in his native Kenya two weeks ago, Kiprono Kurgat was heavily favored to win Sunday’s race.

The 24-year-old didn’t disappoint. With cool temperatures for the 7 a.m. start, the only question was if Kurgat would set a record on the streets of downtown Naples.

Kurgat won the 26th Naples Daily News Half Marathon in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 1.4 seconds. He missed the course record (1:03:12) by almost a minute, but he won by more than 30 seconds.

A year ago, in his first trip to Naples, Kurgat finished in 1:03:35 and won by 107 seconds. This year he’d hoped to break the race record, but he said the chilly weather, usually favored by distance runners, was too brisk.

“I prefer it warmer,” said the Kenyan who trains in Chapel Hill, N.C. “It feels good to win. I have this race on my calendar as an important one.”

A record number of runners (2,412) signed up for the half marathon, which started on Fifth Avenue South and ended on Eighth Street South next to Cambier Park. The temperature was 40 degrees at the start of the 13.1-mile race.

Kurgat is the first man to win two straight Naples Daily News Half Marathons since 1995, according to race founder Perry Silverman. Kurgat won $2,000 of the event’s total $19,000 purse.

Just two weeks before Sunday’s race, Kurgat won a national 12-kilometer race in Kenyan where he beat Geoffrey Mutai. Mutai ran the fastest time ever in the Boston Marathon in 2011 (2:03:02), but the mark isn’t recognized as a world record because Boston’s course doesn’t meet International Association of Athletics Federation standards.

Kurgat might have been slowed by his own dominance. He raced ahead of the pack early and had no close competitors to push him.

Yonas Mebrahtu, 26, from the smaller north African country Eritrea, finished second in 1:04:31.7. Sammy Too, a Kenyan who trains with Kurgat in Chapel Hill, finished third in 1:05:28.8.

“It was a fast race,” Too said. “It was a cold race. Too cold.”

In his second half marathon, Ethan Clary won $400 for fifth place (1:07:19.5) but also took home $1,000 as the top American male. Clary, 24, ran track at the University at Albany (N.Y.). He recently moved to the Miami area and ran his first 13.1-miler in October.

“I’m training for the USA Cross Country National Championships,” Clary said. “We haven’t trained for anything longer than seven miles, but my coach said I could come out here and try to win some money.”

Former University of Michigan runner Ian Forsyth, a Canadian Masters record holder, won $750 as the Masters champion (40 and older). The 41-year-old finished in 1:10:41.9.

2014 Naples Daily News Half Marathon

Men’s results

Overall winners

Name, Age, City - Time - Won

1. Kiprono Kurgat, 24, Chapel Hill, N.C. – 1:04:01.4 – $2,000

2. Yonas Mebrahtu, 26, Flagstaff, Ariz. – 1:04:31.7 – $1,200

3. Sammy Too, 32, Chapel Hill, N.C. – 1:05:28.8 – $800

4. Teresa Fekensa, 32, Washington – 1:07:00.8 – $600

5. Ethan Clary, 24, Cutler Bay – 1:07:19.5 – $400

Masters winners

1. Ian Forsyth, 41, Ann Arbor, Mich. – 1:10:41.9 – $750

2. Malcolm Campbell, 43, Marietta, Ga. – 1:11:28.4 – $500

3. Joseph Ekuom, 44, High Falls, N.Y. – 1:12:32.5 – $300

Grand Masters winners

1. Scott Colton, 50, West Palm Beach – 1:17:52 – $300

2. Brian Keno, 51, Fort Lauderdale – 1:19:04 – $150

Senior Grand Masters winners

3. Perry Seagroves, 61, Concord, N.H. – 1:31:03.6 – $300

4. Gary Romesser, 63, Indianapolis – 1:31:14.7 – $150

NDN Half Marathon: Caroline Rotich wins women's title

NDN Half Marathon: 2014 results

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