The 19-year-old is used to the much warmer climes of his native Kenya, but still managed to win the Hastings Lions Club-organised event by the narrow margin of seven seconds in temperatures barely above freezing point.
Having put on a few more layers shortly after the race, Emase said: “I’ve never seen this cold. Last year (during his time in England) it wasn’t cold like this and because of the weather it’s difficult for me. I must warm up for 30 minutes before the race.”
Emase, who wore a woolly hat, gloves and a t-shirt under his running vest, also explained that the 13.1-mile half marathon distance is further than he ideally likes to run. “This half marathon is so long for me,” he continued. “10K is more my distance - that’s 27, 28 minutes - and cross-country.”
The top four quickly broke clear at the head of affairs before Emase opened up an advantage of around 50 metres by the top of the long uphill Queensway stretch. That didn’t last long, though, because the top four were all back together again by the midway point at Scollays on The Ridge.
It soon became a two-horse race as Emase and Dean Lacy pulled clear in the eighth mile. They remained neck-and-neck over the downhill stretch into the old town and then along the seafront before Emase proved slightly stronger in the closing stages to become the 14th Kenyan winner in the last 16 years.
Emase, a first-time visitor to Hastings, went on: “This course has some hills and I’m good when I run in the hills (back in Kenya, where much of the landscape is fairly undulating), but the hills were tough.
“I felt confident (in the closing stages) because I see the finishing line and I sprinted up to the finishing line. I like it here because it’s one lap; it’s not two laps.”
Emase’s winning time of 1:06:58 was nearly three minutes slower than that he clocked in finishing third at the Bath Half Marathon on Sunday March 3. That day he crossed the line 35 seconds behind compatriot Matthew Kimutai, but the tables were turned in Hastings as Emase finished 39 seconds ahead of his fellow Kenyan.
From the team run-fast stable which has enjoyed considerable success in Hastings over recent years, Emase came second in the Reading Half Marathon on Sunday March 17 in 1:04:56. Incidentally, Cambridge-based Lacy came eighth in Reading in 1:06:55 and 12th in Bath.
Emase, winner of the Poole 10K and Plymouth Half Marathon last year, now plans to head back to Kenya before returning to the UK in May when no doubt he hopes the weather will be a good deal warmer.