In a display of exceptional athleticism amidst challenging weather conditions, Panuel Mkungo and Beatrice Cheptoo emerged victorious at the 'Turkkiye is Bankasi' Istanbul Marathon this weekend. 

Despite facing formidable winds and a demanding uphill stretch, the Kenyan duo demonstrated remarkable resilience, clocking impressive times of 2:10:35 and 2:27:09, respectively.

The marathon, a distinguished World Athletics Gold Label Road Race, witnessed a staggering turnout of 45,000 participants, engaging in various distances, including the iconic 42,197-kilometre race that traverses from Asia to Europe. Battling temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius, the athletes grappled with gusty winds, further intensifying the competition.

Pacemakers set a brisk tempo of 30:06 for the initial ten kilometres, setting a blistering pace. 

Regrettably, defending champion Robert Kipkemboi faltered before the 10-kilometre mark, unable to maintain the lead. At the halfway point, the clock stood at 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 43 seconds, showcasing the relentless speed of the frontrunners.

Mkungo took command after the 25-kilometre mark, powering ahead without the aid of pacers. With a surge of determination, he pressed on, leaving his competitors trailing. Kemboi, despite his efforts, couldn't match Mkungo's blistering pace, ultimately yielding to the Kenyan champion.

Panuel Mkungo, initially not a frontrunner in the race, defied expectations and clinched the title, surpassing his compatriots Benard Sang and James Kiplagat. Sang and Kiplagat secured commendable times of 2:12:41 and 2:12:44, respectively, claiming second and third positions. Reflecting on his triumph, Mkungo expressed, 'I never expected to win the race; this is a huge surprise. It was very tough, but I felt good. I hoped to maybe finish in the top three.'

In the women's race, a closely-knit group of seven runners maintained their pace, crossing the 10-kilometre mark in 34:46, followed by a half marathon time of approximately 1 hour 13:30. As the race progressed, Cheptoo, Maina, and Alemu emerged as the frontrunners, showcasing extraordinary resilience. Cheptoo, with a formidable personal best of 2:22:28, surged ahead and secured victory in 2:27:09. Maina followed closely with a time of 2:27:24, while Mateiko completed the all-Kenyan podium with a time of 2:32:15.

Cheptoo, elated by her triumph, commented, 'I am very happy to have won this race; it was tough with the wind and uphill sections. This is my greatest victory so far. I will use part of the prize money for my two children's school fees.' This victory not only signifies a remarkable athletic achievement but also holds personal significance for Cheptoo, reflecting the dedication and determination that define these athletes' journeys.