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Pair of Kenyans win Prairie Fire half-marathon

Valentine Kibet won the Prairie Fire half-marathon on Sunday in downtown Wichita.
Valentine Kibet won the Prairie Fire half-marathon on Sunday in downtown Wichita. Eagle correspondent

Before the Prairie Fire half-marathon, the paths of Valentine Kibet and Peter Chebii had never crossed in the racing world.

It didn’t take long after they had each won their respective races Sunday morning in downtown Wichita for the champions to discover they each hailed from Kenya. It was an instant friendship from there, as the two shared laughs, running stories, and pictures for the hour after their race.

Chebii won the men’s race in 1 hour, 7 minutes, 42 seconds, which is tied for the sixth-fastest half-marathon time in Kansas history. Kibet won the women’s race in 1:18:04 for the seventh-fastest time ever.

“I am very happy with winning,” Kibet said. “And I am happy I made a friend.”

The cool temperatures on Sunday morning, resting in the low 40s, may have been chilly for spectators, but it was ideal conditions for the field to potentially challenge the state records.

Chebii and Kibet may have very well been up for the challenge, but they didn’t receive the push necessary to go after those low of times. A pair of Wichita State graduates currently hold the records, as Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton holds the women’s record in 1:14:36 and Chris Burnett owns the men’s record in 1:04:25.

Burnett was actually in the field and remained in the lead pack up to the six-mile marker, along with Chebii and Texas native Brian Gohlke. But that’s when Chebii started to pull away and he was surprised when no one came along.

Gohlke finished 66 seconds behind Chebii in 1:08:48, while Burnett was third in 1:09:32. The two-time defending champion, Samuel Kosgei, was never a factor in the lead pack and finished a distant fourth in 1:14:32.

Chebii’s winning time on the 13.1-mile course averaged out to be a 5:11 mile.

“I wanted to push the pace,” he said. “I wanted to go, go, go. I was hoping someone would come with me. I was running by myself. I wanted to go faster, but it was tough.”

Kibet found herself in the same dilemma, as she never had a female competitor to push her after the first two miles. She had to essentially race the clock, using the bicylist pacing her as motivation to keep pushing forward.

She was mildly disappointed in her time, although she was overall pleased considering she was running by herself for most of the race and winning always makes it better. Kibet finished nearly eight minutes ahead of the next female finisher.

“I like to win,” Kibet said. “That was good. My time, that’s okay. But I like the win. There were a lot of people there and they were screaming and that was very exciting. It was nice.”

Prairie Fire race director Bob Hanson said over 2,400 runners were registered to run in Sunday’s events, which included a half-marathon, a 5-kilometer race, a mile race for children, and a fun run/walk.

The record attendance is an obvious endorsement by the local running community that the race is well-organized and popular. Hanson credits this to his team of workers, ranging from his own staff to the over 650 volunteers to the timing crew.

“It really is a team effort,” Hanson said. “Everyone’s goal is to continue to put on the best race possible. We want to keep making it better and better. To get as many people as we did (Sunday), that’s what we’re striving to do and we’re just really pleased with how it turned out. It’s very gratifying for everyone involved.”

Men’s results

Half-Marathon

Overall--1. Peter Chebii, Wichita, 1:07:42; 2. Brian Gohlke, Spring, Texas, 1:08:48; 3. Chris Burnett, Wichita, 1:09:32; 4. Samuel Kosgei, Junction City, 1:14:32; 5. Kurt Aiken, Derby, 1:17:52. Age-graded Masters--1. Don Fitzgerald, Lenexa, 1:31:12; 2. Wayne Darnell, Farmington, N.M., 1:38:25; 3. Kurt Aiken, Derby, 1:17:52. 1-15--Patrick Harris, Bartlesville, Okla., 1:53:53; 16-19--Luis Lopez, Shawnee, Okla., 1:26:22; 20-24--Will Marsh, Wichita, 1:20:35; 25-29--Derek Emmert, Maize, 1:26:19; 30-34--Andrew Bird, Wichita, 1:18:30; 35-39--Scott Coiner, Wichita, 1:26:29; 40-44--Kurt Aiken, Derby, 1:17:52; 45-49--Greg Reimer, Wichita, 1:28:01; 50-54--Michael Fontes, Salina, 1:29:34; 55-59--Dean Tuinstra, Wichita, 1:28:52; 60-64--Don Fitzgerald, Lenexa, 1:31:12; 65-69--Wayne Darnell, Farmington, N.M., 1:38:25; 70-74--Leon Mattocks, Wichita, 2:07:56; 80-98--Sam Logan, Winfield, 3:44:29.

5-kilometer

Overall--1. Matt Fouts, Goddard, 18:48; 2. Sam Steele, Wichita, 19:26; 3. Zachary Johnson, Wichita, 19:57; 4. Justin Hill, Andover, 20:22; 5. Ian Collins, Wichita, 20:39. 1-12--Nicolas Gonzalez, Wichita, 23:40; 13-15--Ian Collins, Wichita, 20:39; 16-19--Matthew Bajaj, Wichita, 22:26; 20-24--Quentin Overdick, Hiawatha, 23:39; 25-29--Brian Le, Wichita, 22:54; 30-34--Gilles Mouzon, Wichita, 20:40; 35-39--John Penka, Wichita, 20:46; 40-44--Bradley Dyer, Wichita, 24:20; 45-49--David Gehlen, Wichita, 23:20; 50-54--Bradley Beecher, Carl Junction, Mo., 23:31; 55-59--Blaine Volz, Wichita, 22:06; 60-64--Andrew Hutton, Wichita, 22:40; 65-69--Edmond Feuille, Wichita, 28:01; 70-74--Gary Jarchow, Derby, 32:15; 75-79--Jim Christensen, Marion, 28:23; 80-98--David Arst, Wichita, 36:41.

Women’s results

Half-marathon

Overall--1. Valentine Kibet, High Falls, N.Y., 1:18:04; 2. Amy Schmitz, Kansas City, 1:26:01; 3. Kim Tuhro, Wichita, 1:27:20; 4. Sara Ibbetson, Ozark, Mo., 1:27:53; 5. Anastasia Diamond, Wichita, 1:28:06. Age-graded Masters--1. Bonnie Fetrow, Wichita, 1:45:11; 2. Kim Willse, Hutchinson, 1:47:31; 3. Kara McCluskey, Wichita, 1:35:17. 1-15--Cayden Brickman, Stillwater, Okla., 1:58:11; 16-19--Sabrina DeSantiago, Shawnee, Okla., 1:29:51; 20-24--Anastasia Diamond, Wichita, 1:28:06; 25-29--Christina Addison, Valley Center, 1:33:14; 30-34--Erin Lawrence, Wichita, 1:37:48; 35-39--Kate Calvin, Wichita, 1:34:52; 40-44--Kara McCluskey, Wichita, 1:35:17; 45-49--Jayna Bertholf, Winfield, 1:42:00; 50-54--June Klotz, St. George, 1:44:22; 55-59--Sharon Doss, Wichita, 1:59:16; 60-64--Bonnie Fetrow, Wichita, 1:45:11; 65-69--Kathy Von Klemen, Fort Worth, Texas, 3:10:44; 70-74--Mary Aldridge, Wichita, 3:30:19; 75-79--Gayla Hefley, Wichita, 2:54:12.

5-kilometer race

Overall--1. Jalayne Bacon, Wichita, 19:12; 2. Morgan Eggleston, Wichita, 21:17; 3. Celeste McCabe, Wichita, 22:19; 4. Karolina Mosa, Wichita, 23:51; 5. Yeni Rodriguez, Wichita, 24:21. 1-12--Lauren Heinz, Andover, 28:07; 13-15--Bella Caudell, Wichita, 27:10; 16-19--Kirsten Nicholas, Haysville, 26:05; 20-24--Sandra Castillo, Wichita, 25:44; 25-29--Sarah Masenthin, Wichita, 24:31; 30-34--Ashley Carpenter, Wichita, 24:32; 35-39--Yeni Rodriguez, Wichita, 24:21; 40-44--Leslie Schrandt, Wichita, 26:05; 45-49--Mary Ellen Chaffin, Andover, 27:00; 50-54--Donna Spoonemore, Hillsboro, 25:15; 55-59--Nancy Robinson, Newton, 29:14; 60-64--Barb Parker, Wichita, 30:40; 65-69--Glynda Booth, Wichita, 34:27; 70-74--Sheryl Drevo, Goddard, 26:49; 75-79--Carolyn Langenwalter, Wichita, 41:16.

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