New recruit Vincent Chepkok Kiprop returned to competitive action after the mandatory military training to triumph in the Armed Forces cross country championship while Linet Chepkurui made it two wins in three attempts in the race staged at the Kahawa Barracks on Saturday.
In the 21km road race, Philes Ongori clocked 1:10.23 to beat Helen Mugo 1:13.59 and Esther Wanjiku 1:16.43.
Geoffrey Giikuni took the men’s title. Giikuni clocked 1:01:01 ahead of Mark Macharia 1:01:43 while Anthony Wambugu was third in 1:54.00.
Kiprop, the 2007 silver medallist at the 8km junior race in Mombasa World Cross Country Championship, chalked up his first victory in the senior category as he held out against strong opposition from Barnabas Kosgei, William Chebon and Meshack Kipsang to win the 12km race in 38:49.07.
Athletes had to content with muddy course following heavy rains in Nairobi. It was Kiplimo Chumba, Kiprono Menjo and Kosgei who took the first initiative and crossed the 2km mark in top gear.
However, the pursuing pack that had five time world cross country champion Paul Tergat, Mark Kiptoo, the world military games 10,000m champion, Linus Chumba, Patrick Ndiwa and Abraham Cherono caught up with them.
The pace slowed as the muddy conditions took toll and fatigue set in.
By the halfway mark, Kosgei broke off with Kiprop, Chebon and Kipsang on his tail as the rest fell behind. The new group held out with no one committing himself until the final lap.
Kosgei’s strong sprint however could not upstage Kiprop (38:49.07) and he only succeeded in edging out a tired Chebon to second place in 38:52.04 while Chebon settled for third slot in 38:54.00 ahead of Kipsang 38:56.07.
“It was a very tough race for me. I have not raced in such conditions before and I just held up hoping to be among the top ten. But in the final lap, I realised the others had dropped further and I made my last effort which I believe won me the race,” said Kiprop.
He now focus his training on winning the national championship next month at Ngong race Course.