Kenya's Chumba and Ongori win UNEP Half Marathon
NAIROBI, Feb 24, 2013 (Xinhua via COMTEX) --
by Ben Ochieng
Kenya's Dickson Chumba and Phylles
Ongori won the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-backed 21km Half
Marathon in Nairobi on Sunday to support an initiative to raise
awareness of the need for peaceful elections in Kenya.
Chumba won the men's category under Nairobi's scorching sun in
a time of 1:04.32 to pocket the first prize money of 1,800 U.S.
Jackson Limo emerged second in a time of 1:04.51 while the
third position went to John Loyiang who stopped the clock at
Chumba, who described the competition as stiff and as could be
testified by the mini seconds that separated the runners, said the
victory served as a launching pad for his international career.
"There is a beginning to everything and this race marks my
springboard to big time competition," said Chumba who won his
first major race of his career.
Ongori won the women's event in a time of 1:08.59 and was
closely followed by Eunice Mumbua Kioko who placed second after
clocking 1:09.24. Hellen Chepkurgat emerged third overall in a
time of 1:09.36.
"It was a tough race and I did not expect to win as the
competition was stiff," Ongori said during a post-race interview.
"However, in the last 5 kilometers, I stepped on the pedal
after I saw my competition struggling and from then it was all
systems go for me."
Ongori said she will compete in the Berlin Half Marathon in
April and expressed satisfaction that her win was indication that
she was enjoying top form.
"Winning the race at home against my fellow Kenyans is a sign
of good things to come in Berlin considering that nowadays in
international races we compete against ourselves."
The United Nation's Half Marathon race was organized to
celebrate the decision to strengthen and upgrade the UNEP
headquarters which is based in Nairobi to universal membership.
Among the runners who raced through the streets of Nairobi
alongside the public to also support the initiative to raise
awareness of the need for peaceful elections in Kenya during the
general elections scheduled for March 4 was world record holder
Patrick Makau who took part in the 7.5km event.
"I am here to lend support to the UNEP's worthy cause and also
to give moral encouragement to the upcoming athletes," Makau told
Xinhua after the race.
As well as celebrating UNEP's new universal membership, the
21km race, whose total prize money stood at 17,000 U.S. dollars,
is also in support of the Sports for Peaceful Elections Campaign
that was started in January by the UN in conjunction with Kenya's
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Last year, UNEP organized a half marathon race in Nairobi to
celebrate the organization's 40th anniversary which coincided with
the convening of the 12th Special Session of the UNEP Governing
Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum which was attended by
dignitaries from over 150 countries.
Victor Kipchirchir won last year's event in a time of 1:00.27
whereas Mercy Chemtai won the women's category when she clocked
The decision to strengthen and upgrade UNEP to universal
membership was reached by heads of states at the Rio+20 Conference
in June 2012 and officially confirmed by the UN General Assembly
The upgrading of UNEP is expected to enhance its efficiency in
dealing with environmental issues and will address the
institutional gap that existed in countering evolving
environmental challenges currently.
The set of decisions agreed upon for strengthening and
upgrading UNEP include universal membership, secure and increased
financial resources, progressive consolidation of UNEP headquarter
functions and strengthened engagement with key UN coordination
There was also greater participation by member states in
environmental diplomacy whereas the new universal character of the
Governing Council and UNEP's re-affirmation as the leading
environmental authority provided the legitimacy and authority that
lacked in the previously limited membership of the Governing
The General Assembly resolution also provides UNEP to receive
secure, stable and increased financial resources from the regular
budget of the UN, and calls for other UNEP donors to increase
their voluntary funding.
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