Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri on Saturday beat a strong field to claim her second victory in the Athletics Kenya Cross Country Series in Machakos.
Obiri, based at the Laikipia Air Base (LAB), pulled away from Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich in the final lap to claim victory in 33 minutes and 29.1 seconds.
Competing in his first race since Rio Olympics, Charles Mneria from Kenya Prisons took command of the men’s 10km race with two laps to go to win, edging out the quality field that had defending champion Stephen Arita and Commonwealth 3,000m steeplechase champion Jonathan Ndiku.
Obiri, the winner of the opening leg in Nairobi last month, destroyed the rich women’s 10km field, beating Chepng’etich, who is also the Commonwealth 1,500m champion, to second in 33:46.9.
“The weather was great and I am happy for the victory considering that this was a better field than Nairobi,” said Obiri, the 2012 World Indoor 3,000m champion.
“I am not in my best shape yet and I hope to hit the right form ahead of the World Cross Country championships.”
Obiri said her dream is to represent Kenya for the first time at the World Cross Country Championships due for March 26, next year in Kampala, Uganda.
It was Chepng’etich’s first race since the Zurich leg of the Diamond League in September. “This is the start of my build up ahead of the track season next year,” said Chepng’etich, who will be heading to Italy for a Cross Country race on January 6.
Chepng’etich, the 2011 and 2013 World Cross Country junior champion, is also looking forward to representing Kenya at the World Cross Country in Kampala before the track season.
“I just wanted to gauge my body and it feels great,” said Chepng’etich.
Chepng’etich’s elder sister, Beatrice Chepkemoi from Keringet, settled third in 33:56.1 as the 2015 Berlin Marathon champion Gladys Cherono, who was competing in her first race since March, having recovered from a lower back injury, wound fourth in 34:24.1.
Mneria clocked 29:32.4, beating Peter Emase to second in 29:45.8. Nairobi leg winner Katui Muia settled third in 29:52.6 as defending champion Stephen Arita came in fourth in 29:58.8. Ndiku was placed sixth in 30:17.5.
Shadrack Langat from Global won the junior men’s 8km race in 24:02.7 while Edna Jebitok from Keringet reigned supreme in junior women’s 6km race in 20:21.5.