Reter Mateelong won his second event of the season as World Cross junior champion Faith Chepng’etich met her match during the fifth KCB/AK National Cross Country series meeting in Embu on Saturday.
In the other events, double Africa champion Gladys Cherono triumphed over Chicago Marathon third finisher, Lucy Kabuu in the women’s 8km senior race while Kiprono Bett and Alexander Mutiso arrived at the tape dead heat with victory going to the former in split timing.
Paced by Beijing Olympics and reigning Worlds 1500m titleholder, Asbel Kiprop, in the opening 5km, Mateelong kept close to the metric mile icon and when he left the field, took over front running duties with a chasing pack of 10 trailing him.
At the bell, the winner had only veteran World Cross competitor, Hosea Mwok Macharinyang for company and as they came to the last 600m, Mateelong, a younger brother to famed steeplechaser Richard, unleashed a kick that carried him to the tape but only just.
The unrelenting Macharinyang who is bidding for an eighth World Cross outing in Poland fell only a second short of eclipsing his challenger with the clocks reading 36:33 against 36:34 as the same finishing order from the first meet of the series in Nyahururu (November 3) was repeated here.
“I knew that he was ready for me to get him from behind like I did in Nyahururu so this time, I chose to stay close to Asbel and when he left, I went in front. I’m confident I’m in good shape to carry the family’s flag in Poland since my elder brother told me to go for it,” the younger Mateelong and Kenya Defence Force runner based in Nanyuki said.
KDF cross title holder
Former World Junior medallist and Kenya Defence Forces Cross titleholder, John Chepkwony claimed bronze two seconds adrift ahead of Africa Cross titleholder, John Mwangangi (36:37) and Geoffrey Kirui (36:38) who won the second leg in Machakos to round the top five.
In the women’s 8km showdown, Cherono who bagged the 5000m and 10000m titles in Benin was chased down to the finish by the charged Kabuu, who was fifth in London and second in Dubai marathons with the winner posting 28:00 with the contender given 28:01.
Phanicier Jemutai who has starred this campaign was rewarded with third in 28:10. The upset of the day was the sight of Faith Chepng’etich (21:36), being forced down the field to fifth in the junior women 6km run in an event dominated by Barcelona World Juniors medallist.
Mercy Chebwogen (20:45) who won the 3000m crown edged out 5000m bronze medallist Agnes Chebet (20:46) in the final lunge for the tape with Rofline Chepng’etich (20:52) holding off Sheila Chepng’etich (21:25), winner in Nyahururu, off for the final podium place.
Took final podium place
Kiprono Bett, the younger sibling to 2010 World Junior 10,000m champion, Josphat, claimed victory in the most dramatic finish of the programme in the keenly contested men 8km race.
The last 100m were a spectacle with Bett, Alexander Mutiso and Joseph Kimathi almost knocking each other off the narrow finish straight before they roughly got to the tape simultaneously.
Officials awarded it to Bett (24:26.00) with Mutiso (24:26.05) and Kimathi (24:27) occupying the minor podium places.
A record number of 328 participants, 199 of them in the senior long race, took part.