DESPITE trailing almost a minute behind the mens open winner, R. Muniandy had a crack to narrow the gap with foreign professional runners at the sixth edition of the New Balance Pacesetters 15km Run at Padang Merbok in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday .
The Team New Balance new signing said he tried to match the pace and follow Benson Kiprono before allowing the leader to escape with four kilometres to go.
Kiprono went on to build a comfortable lead and crossed the finish line in 50:30.
Muniandy clocked 51:19 for second spot followed by Kipronos training partner Samuel Kiptoo Cheruiyot in third (52:08).
I am a bit tired today because I took part in a half marathon race in Sibu (Sarawak) last week. An unregistered runner was also breathing down my neck in the final stretch of the race.
But, I managed to pull away from him in the last two kilometres, the 30-year-old clerk added.
The undulating course was also a perfect training ground for the Kenyans ahead of their next assignment at the Port Dickson International Half Marathon this Sunday.
The 38-year-old Cheruiyot said the 15km hilly route was a challenging course for them to perform their speed workout.
We have been here for a month now. We are looking forward to compete in more races, added the 24-year-old Kiprono, who holds a personal best of 104 over the 21km distance.
The champions in all categories took home New Balance vouchers worth RM1,000 each.
Meanwhile, the second and third placed winners received RM800 and RM600 vouchers each respectively.
Stream Enterprise Sdn Bhd marketing manager Wei Chong Hwa also noted the top local runner had a better outing against the foreigners.
Last year, the first local runner who came in was several minutes behind the foreign frontrunners.
Besides Muniandy, another two runners (M. Ramachandran and M. Ramakrishnan) are featuring for Team New Balance, said Wei.
Former international Ramachandran finished third with a time of 56:26 in the mens veteran section while Ramakrishnan registered 57:10 to claim the top spot in the mens senior veteran.
This year, the run drew more than 1,500 entries in six categories - mens open (above 16 years), mens veteran (40 to 50 years), mens senior veteran (above 50 years), womens open (above 16 years), womens veteran (35 to 45 years) and womens senior veteran (above 45 years).
Newly elected Pacesetters Athletic Club Malaysia (PACM) president Rustam Affandi Zaihan said they were pleased with the 90% turnout.
Over the years, we took a lot of effort to establish the event as a prominent 15km run in the country, he said.
This year, about 120 volunteers came forward and offered their assistance, added Rustam.
At the end of the run, the organisers also provided breakfast for the participants.
Other sponsors included The Coronade Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Milo, Fitness Concept and PowerBar.
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