FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
US $1.5million up for grabs as the finale of
The Greatest Race on Earth draws near
23 February 2007, Hong Kong - The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon on
4 March 2007 will provide an exciting climax to The Greatest Race on Earth
(GROE) 2006/07 team relay series. Snaking between skyscrapers before
skirting the world famous Hong Kong Victoria harbour, the marathon is a
fitting tribute and finale to what, with over 30 countries competing, is
fast becoming known as the ”World Cup of Marathons”.
GROE is a relay of four marathons in the cities of Nairobi, Singapore,
Mumbai and Hong Kong. The series sees athletes take on some of the world's
most challenging running conditions – including altitude, heat, humidity
and steep inclines. Athletes compete in teams of four, running one marathon
each, working together to strive for the fastest cumulative time. The prize
pool on offer, US$1.5 million, is the largest in world athletics.
Going into the final leg in Hong Kong, it remains incredibly tight at the
front of the field with only a matter of seconds separating the top two
teams in the Main Team Challenge. The first placed team will win
US$400,000, whilst second place will secure US$195,000.
With a cumulative time so far of 6 hours 51 minutes, the leading team
Marathon Centre Kericho are a mere 44 seconds ahead of rivals Kericho.
Third-placed team Akaki are just two minutes further back, with Pace Sports
Management a further minute down.
Kericho have a strong final leg runner in Kenyan Steven Loruo Kamar, who
last year set his personal best of 2:10:46 in winning the Xiamen Marathon.
Kamar said: “I am looking to finish in the top three in the Hong Kong
Marathon, in an attempt to secure first place for our team overall. I
enjoy running in GROE as it means sharing emotions with my team-mates, and
I want to do my best for them.”
Leaders Marathon Centre Kericho’s runner Paul Kiprono has a best time of
2:12:47, two minutes slower than Kamar, so the race could well go all the
way to the wire. Meanwhile, third-placed Akaki will be hoping to pose a
threat to the top two teams as their athlete Chumba Patrick Kimeli is the
fastest athlete in the field (2:09:45). Kimeli said: “Participation in
GROE means a lot of responsibility for me because I’m the last runner of
the team and I can not make any mistakes.”
Comfortably leading the Women’s Team Challenge are Cyclone team, almost 18
minutes clear of second-placed Run For Peace. Third-placed Grazy Girls are
just two minutes further down, and China Team round off the top four.
China Team runner Liu Min is the fastest female athlete in the GROE field
in Hong Kong, with the personal best of 2:23:37 she recorded in winning the
2001 Beijing Marathon. This also earned her a place in the top 100 female
marathon times list. Along with Tegla Loroupe and Salina Kosgei, who won in
Singapore, she is one of the iconic athletes to compete in this year’s GROE
Mary Ptikany of second-placed Run For Peace is aware of the pressure, not
just of running as part of a team but also of running in the concluding
marathon. “To run for a team is more difficult than to run on your own. You
are responsible for all the other runners in your team so you have to try
your very best,” she said. “Crossing the line in Hong Kong will not just
mean finishing the marathon, but also my team’s completion of the GROE
It is similarly close between the top three in the Nations Challenge, with
Kenya leading Zimbabwe by just over one and a half minutes. Uganda are
close behind, trailing Kenya by only four minutes.
Zimbabwe’s Philip Bandawe has a personal best of 2:15:47, three minutes
faster than Kenyan Edward Kiprotich Muge’s 2:18:00, paving the way for
another nail-biting finish as the three teams seek to be awarded the solid
Gold Baton trophy.
With a chance to grab victory in the final leg of the series, Bandawe is
philosophical in his approach to the marathon: “To succeed you need to be
courageous, positive in your preparation, and consistent in every training
session. Finally you must not lose hope, even when the race gets tough.”
Pakistan’s Naseer Ahmed is the fastest runner within the Nations Challenge
field in Hong Kong, recording a personal best of 2:14:11 in Rawalpindi in
2003, an all-comers record. Pakistan are currently third in the region of
South Asia, trailing India and Sri Lanka. In the other regional
competitions, Indonesia (South East Asia), Taiwan (North East Asia),
Australia (Europe & Oceania), Kenya (Africa) and Mexico (Americas) are all
looking to defend their leads.
For more information, visit www.thegreatestrace.com.