Kibet wins 42nd Youngstown Peace Race

Competition fierce in 42nd Youngstown Peace Race

By Brian Dzenis


The early word on the 42nd Youngstown Peace Race was that it featured a stacked field at the top. It lived up to that billing as the race came down to the final mile before a winner was decided.

While two Americans bested three Kenyan runners and a returning Olympic marathoner from the Democratic Republic of Congo, they couldn’t catch James Kibet. The 27-year-old Kenyan crossed the finish line pointing toward the sky, taking his first race inside the United States.

“This was a fast race. When I was in the group, I thought, ‘Maybe I can be the top man in the race,’” Kibet said. “I checked and they came back, so I tried to go faster in mile three. Some guys closed the gap. I still had a lot of energy at mile five, so I pushed.”

Kibet had a time of 29:38.29, beating Twinsburg native and North Carolina State product Bobby Moldovan by 18 seconds. Moldovan said his original goal was to be the best American and record a time under 30 minutes, but halfway through the race, Kibet still seemed within reach.

“I kept trying to make up ground on him and he just kept blowing me away, there was nothing I could do,” Moldovan said. “I looked up at five and realized I didn’t make any gap on him and he might have put more on me. At that point, I stopped focusing on him and just worried about my time.”

Taking third was John Raneri, who flew in from Flagstaff, Ariz., to compete. Kibet narrowly missed the cut to be on Kenya’s 5000-meter Olympic team, taking fourth when third would have sent him to Rio de Janeiro.

“Maybe in time, I can get there,” Kibet said. “The more races I do, my morale goes higher.”

Olympic marathoner Makorobondo Salukombo took sixth. He had taken time off of running since the Olympics and viewed the Peace Race as a way to get back in shape.

“I didn’t have big expectations. I just wanted to get back into running, the course was amazing. I think I want to come back next year and see if I can go a little faster,” Salukombo said. “I’m still recovering, so I’m trying to enjoy my time before going back into full-time training.”

The overall women’s winner was Kenyan Joan Aliyabei with a time of 33:07.40. She came to the U.S. in August and has won nine her last 10 races. She has two more before returning home.

“I loved this race. It was very good. No wind,” Aliyabei said.

She was followed by fellow Kenyans Verinicah Maina and Gladys Cheboi. they were collectively about two minutes ahead of the nearest female runner.

“My colleagues and I wanted to push the pace around one mile,” Aliyabei said. “My personal best is 32:44, but today I got a 33.”

The top Ohio runner was Youngstown State graduate Eric Rupe. The Maplewood product ran a 30:53.92.

“It was a stacked field this year, but it’s really good to get all these fast guys in Youngstown,” Rupe said. “It was about a minute spread between first and seventh, we were all in there.”

The best women’s runner form Ohio was Chesterfield’s Ellie Hess, a former John Carroll standout. Another local winner was Youngstown’s Tom Grantonic, who won in the men’s grand master category.