Kenyan runners took the majority of the plaudits at the Jakarta Marathon on Sunday, the first internationally recognized marathon in Southeast Asia that was aimed at introducing the city to a global audience and attracting more foreign tourists to the country.
William Chebor led the Kenyan trio that dominated the men’s 42-kilometer marathon, which set off from the National Monument (Monas). Chebor covered the distance in two hours, 14 minutes and 30 seconds to win the men’s title.
Stephen Tum and Chelimo Kipkemoi took second and third places with times of 2:15:35 and 2:17:06, respectively.
Mulu Seyfu, an elite Ethiopian runner, cruised to victory in the women’s race with a time of 2:42:57.
Diana Sigei of Kenya finished second, 82 seconds behind, while another Kenyan, Mercy Jelimo Foo, took third with 2:44:18.
The winners will take home US$40,000 each in prize money.
The race started at 5 a.m., earlier than any other race previously held in the capital, due to the weather.
“We deliberately started earlier so the runners, particularly the elite runners, would not be affected by the humidity,” Deputy Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sapta Nirwandar told a press conference at Monas prior to the race.
The race also witnessed the death of one runner and caused traffic gridlock across the capital.
A 5-km race participant, Rev. Ignatius Sumarya, director of the Mertoyudan seminary in Magelang, Central Java, died on the way to hospital after collapsing at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta, according to Gambir police precinct officer Comr. Tugiran.
According to Ignatius’ colleague, Rev. Sarjumunarso, the reverend had suffered a heart attack.
The race committee required marathon and half-marathon participants to provide doctor’s recommendations, but the requirement was not obligatory for 5K and 10K participants.
Traffic jams were reported in areas near the marathon route, such as Mampang Prapatan, Pasar Minggu and Pancoran in South Jakarta, as streets in South and Central Jakarta were closed to traffic during the race.
The marathon also boosted local tourism, as participants from outside Jakarta flocked to the capital over the weekend.
Jakarta Tourism Agency head Arie Budhiman said occupancy rates increased by 15 percent to between 80 percent and 90 percent compared to regular weekends.
“Most hotels on Jl. MH Thamrin and Jl. Sudirman [Central Jakarta] were fully booked. Most out-of-towners even brought their families along so the event had a positive impact on our tourism,” Arie said.
He said the committee was ready to make the Jakarta Marathon an annual event.
“The track has been graded ‘A’ by the Asian Athletics Association. As long as we can ensure the event is free of safety and technical issues, we can hold it annually,” he said.
Governor Joko Widodo said an evaluation would be carried out and promised to improve subsequent marathons.
“With better preparation, I hope the Jakarta Marathon will be even better in coming years, attracting more participants,” he said. JP