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Kenya leads the way as the sun shines on the 12th Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef

A second consecutive Kenyan double in the elite men’s and women’s marathon brought the curtain down on two sun-drenched days of racing on the shores of lake Geneva. Thousands lined the finish of the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef on the city’s iconic Pont du Mont Blanc to cheer home Kenyan winners Julius Chepkwony and Jane Kiptoo, the latter defending her title from last year.

All 16,000 competitors across eight different events enjoyed incredible support and perfect weather throughout the weekend. Geneva locals turned out in record numbers on the hottest day of the year to support the runners. A carnival atmosphere enveloped the race village in the Jardin Anglais from 10am on Friday morning when the first competitors arrived to collect their race bibs.

Among those taking part in the race weekend was Formula One driver and hometown hero Romain Grosjean. He said: “The course was fantastic, going through Meinier where I grew up and near Chêne-Bougeries where I went to school. It brought back a lot of special memories. The view of Mont-Blanc and then the Jet d’Eau were truly amazing – this is an incredible event.”

Grosjean was one of 5,500 competitors to start the half marathon at 8.45am today. In the men’s half marathon Temesgen Daba of Ethiopia won in a time of 1.05:57. Elise Chabbey of Switzerland won the women’s race in 1.24:52. Olivier Godinat came first in the handbike / wheelchair half marathon.

A little over an hour later the elite men and women started the full marathon. A lead group of four men passed the 30km marker in record time before the searing heat allowed Chepkwony to build a gap over his rivals. His winning time of 2.11:11 was just 11 seconds outside of the course record.

“I knew a fast time was possible but I just wanted to make sure of the win,” he said. “I tried so hard to push the pace in the last few kilometres and it’s a big relief to finish first. The support the whole way round was incredible.”

In the women’s race, the weather was again a factor for Jane Kiptoo, a year after she braved the rain to triumph. She said: “It’s such a relief to win again. The rain made it hard last time and today the heat became a challenge. I think I was able to hold on to my pace better than my rivals. It was a tough run but I love Geneva and I’m so happy to win again.” Her time of 2.35:04 was 40 seconds quicker than last year.

A festival of running on the shores of Lake Geneva

Saturday’s action came to a close with the 10km race – a unique day-night event combining the best of downtown Geneva and the surrounding countryside at dusk. Thousands of runners, walkers and Nordic walkers were cheered to the finish by a record number of visitors in the Jardin Anglais.

Live music and cries of encouragement spurred on the field, with Joseph Bago from Switzerland crossing the line first in 33:26. Scotland’s Victoria Crawford won the women’s event in 39:06 having finished second last year. Earlier in the day 1,500 six to 15 year-olds raced along the edge of Lake Geneva in the junior events before another 1,400 runners took part in the women’s-only Genevoise. Olga Mallet from France finished the 6.5km course first in a time of 26:15.

The Marathon Village was the busiest in memory with more activities and entertainment than ever before. Runners, supporters and Geneva residents flocked to the Jardin Anglais where everything from giant Zumba classes to games of foot golf and more than 40 exhibitors stands animated the village.

The best edition of the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef yet

Some 127 nations were represented across the marathon weekend with a race for runners of all ages and abilities. The Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef is the first and only running event in Switzerland to be accredited with the IAAF’s (International Association of Athletics Federations) prestigious Bronze Label – recognising the professionalism of the event organisation.

By participating in the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef, this year’s runners will have helped save lives. Over the last six years, 483 water pumps have been installed in countries requiring emergency assistance, allowing children and their families to have access to safe drinking water thanks to the funds raised. Unicef has been the official charity partner of the event since 2010.

The Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef’s strapline, “Fast is Beautiful,” is derived from the unique makeup of the course, taking in both stunning Alpine countryside and the urban landscape of one of Europe’s major cities. In 2015, 50% of runners achieved a personal best time and with 25% less uphill running in this year’s route, the event was expected to be faster than ever.

Race Director Ben Chandelier said: “This has to go down as the most successful edition of the Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef yet. Some 16,000 competitors from all over the world have experienced the best of running in this incredible city and the surrounding countryside.

“Huge congratulations to every single finisher and thanks to the thousands of spectators who cheered them on. This event would be impossible without the monumental effort of more than 1,000 volunteers and I’d like to thank them on behalf of the whole city for their incredible commitment.”

Key figures

12th edition
8 races over two days
16,000 runners expected
2,000 Marathon runners
280 Relay teams of 4 to 6 people (1800 runners in total)
5’400 participating in the Half Marathon
3 Wheelchair competitors
1,400 women running the Genevoise (5km)
1,500 running in the Junior Races
2,800 running the 10km race
950 participating in the 10km walk
200 participating in the 10km Nordic walk
1000 volunteers
52% Men 48% Women
58% running in Geneva for the first time
127 Nationalities represented, including Swiss, French, British, Italian, Spanish, American, Brazil, Portugal, Belgium, Polish, Indian, Japanese and Moroccan.
Top 3 cantons: Geneva, Vaud and Valais
Youngest participant: 6 years old
Oldest participant: 80 years old
13 towns crossed
18 pace setters

All results are available here.

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