Trailblazing Vincent Rono and Pauline Kaveke from Nyanza beat strong fields to win their races at the Kenya Prisons Services Cross-country Championships held at Uhuru Gardens on Saturday.
Rono won his second race in two weeks after weathering a two-horse battle with team mate Julius Kogo in the last four kilometres to take men’s 10km title in 31 minutes and 10.5 seconds.
Kaveke, who was in Kenya’s junior team for the 2013 World Cross Country, seized her maiden victory locally, winning the women’s 10km race in 34:36.1.
Contestants in men’s race broke up into two groups, with almost 30 metres separating them. Rono, Kogo, and 2014/2015 AK Cross Country Series champion Cornelius Kangongo and 2014 Commonwealth Games 3,000m steeplechase champion Jonathan Muya led the first pack.
The second pack had 2011 World 1,500m champion Silas Kiplagat, 2012 Africa Cross-country champion John Mwangangi and 2013 World Cross Kenya team captain Timothy Kiptoo among others.
However, Rono, who won the last race in the Athletics Kenya Cross Country Series in Sotik two weeks ago, Kogo and Kangogo broke away. Rono mastered the soggy course to win, with Kogo second in 32:13.4.
Kangongo once again settled third for the second year running in 33:10.2 in the championships that was witnessed by hundreds of fans including Kenya Prisons commissioner general Isaiah Osugo.
“The wet course made things a bit difficult but my good endurance and consistent pace carried the day,” said Rono.
Rono has now set his sights on performing well at the National Cross Country Championships on February 13 as she seeks a place in Team Kenya for the Africa Cross-country Championships due March 12 in Yaoundé.
“My dream is to represent Kenya for the first time,” said the 25-year-old Rono, winner of Leon Half Marathon in France.
Kogo, who finished third in Sotik, said: “My body has been reacting well to training. I’m ready for the big stage,” said Kogo, 31.
Kiplagat failed to finish the race, while Muya finished eighth in 36:16.0 while defending champion Philip Langat finished out of the top 20. The 2012 Olympics 5,000m bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa did not compete as his wife passed away on the eve of the race.