News & Releases >> Aug 23 2010

MUNGARA vs RONO DUEL highlights strong Kenyan challenge at STWM2010

Can they battle to yet another Canadian All-comers record?

Daniel Rono

TORONTO. 23 August. Defending champion Kenneth Mungara and 2006 champion Daniel Rono are confirmed to highlight what organizers hope will be another record-setting race at the 2010 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on September 26th. It is an IAAF Silver Label race. Mungara also won in 2008 and is hoping for a 3-peat performance. Rono returned in 2007 to place second in a dramatic sprint to the line. That day, John Kelai ran 2:09:30 — with Rono 5 seconds back — to take out Waldemar Cierpinski's 31-year-old record for the fastest time ever on Canadian soil, that had stood since the Montreal Olympics [2:09:55]. Last year, Mungara surprised even himself. After winning by two seconds in 2008, in 2:11:01, he ran a huge PR to clock 2:08:32 last Fall, and take another minute off the Canadian All-comers mark. It is anticipated that this year's Mungara-Rono duel could see not only another Kenyan champion on Toronto Waterfront's flat, fast course, but also a new All-comers record.

“We're excited to have both Kenneth and Daniel returning to Toronto,” said Race Director Alan Brookes. “Not only does it set up the mouth-watering prospect of a fine duel and a new Canadian-soil record, but they are both so representative of what Toronto Waterfront is all about — a flat, fast course, well-organized race, a good atmosphere that affords up-and-comers a great opportunity to advance their careers. And you can say this about weekend warriors, Boston hopefuls and mid-packers too.”

Before Daniel Rono came to Toronto Waterfront he had only run 2:12. His 2006 victory took that down to 2:10:15 and then the 2:09:35 in '07. That got Daniel a start place in Rotterdam in Spring 2008 where he ran a stunning 2:06:58. He followed that up with tickets to The Majors: a 3rd place in New York in Fall '08 [2:11:22]; and a 2nd place in Boston in Spring 2009 [2:09:32]. This Spring, he returned to Rotterdam looking for another fast time but faded to 7th in 2:09:49 after a 62:08 minute first-half in a torrid 2:04:48 race.

After his tour of the Majors, the 32 year old Rono, from Eldoret, is returning to Toronto looking for a fast time and a “win”.

“I decided to come back to Toronto because I need a race targeted at 2h07' but without the first half in 62' like it was my last marathon in Rotterdam... And also because I would like to cancel definitely from my mind the negative thought of 2007, and the best way is to come back to try to win again.

The victory in 2006 was a very beautiful moment. But in 2007, even if for the first time in my life I ran faster than 2h10', it was not a nice experience because I lost in the sprint by just a few seconds, after I stayed in front of the leading group for many kilometres.

My training now is going well. I recovered well after Rotterdam and I feel that I will be in good condition for September 26th. My goal for the next Toronto Waterfront Marathon is to win again even if I know it will be very difficult because I saw that every edition the quality of the athletes has increased.

My hope is to win.”

Kenneth Mungara

While Rono has the 2:06 and has been to “The Show”, Kenneth Mungara is a man who knows how to win. As defending, two-time STWM champion, he loves Toronto and won't give up his crown without a battle. More of an enigma, Kenneth hasn't been overly impressive outside the Canadian metropolis, but the only thing the 37 year-old from Limuru knows how to do in Canada is win. When it took a 2:11 to win in 2008, that's what he ran, going by Peter Kiprotich only in the final 400m. The 2009 pre-race programme mused: “ran a PR of 2:10:29 at Prague this Spring. Is Kenneth a talent ready for a big breakthrough, or is he just a one-speed 2:10 guy? He has a relaxed, easy style". When it took a 2:08:32 to win, Kenneth pulled one out, dusting off a twin Ethiopian threat from Chala Lemi and the highly-experienced Gashaw Asfaw Melese between 37k and 38k. Since that victory last September, Kenneth has run two mediocre marathons — a 2:11:05 in Beppu-Oita, Japan in February and a 2:10:53 back in Prague in May. In the words of his Manager, Derek Froude, “Kenneth hasn't had a particularly good year.” But don't count him out. Kenneth says:

“I like both the city and the race. I love the people of Toronto who cheered me a lot and gave me the motivation that made my time so good. My training is good. I'll do my best and hope to win again.”

A strong Kenyan pack will also be on the start line for this year's STWM, to push both Mungara and Rono all the way. It includes Jafred Chirchir who made a big improvement to notch a surprise victory in Milan this Spring in 2:09:15; David Njagi, who tasted victory in Valencia in February in 2:09:44; Nixon Machichim, who ran 2:09:08 for 3rd in Rome in March; David Tarus who ran 2:12:13 for 4th place at STWM2008; and 26-year old Denis Ndiso who could be the surprise of the group. Denis has a 60:33 PR for the half and has run under 62 minutes for that distance six times. He won Mumbai in the heat in January this year in 2:12:34, then went to Prague in May with high hopes of popping one. There he had the misfortune to be chasing the unknown Eliud Kiptanui who took the pack through halfway in 63:16, then threw in a 62:23 second half for a sizzling 2:05:39, with Denis fading badly to 2:10:51, two seconds ahead of Mungara.

“It really is an honour for us that both Kenneth and Daniel have chosen to return,” said Brookes. “They both have very special places in the rise of our race to international status. It speaks to the worldwide reputation of the race, and our attraction to top flight athletes. Every year the field gets faster and deeper. And when you get this many good guys together, good things tend to happen.”

A strong Ethiopian contingent is expected to be announced soon, as well, to take on the Kenyans, and for the first time in 15 years, Canada will have something to cheer for with Eric Gillis, Reid Coolsaet and Matt Loiselle all on the start line of Canada's fastest marathon.

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