As expected, the national cross country championships claimed the scalps of some bigwigs as both senior men and women champions Joseph Ebuya and Emily Chebet failed to sustain the onslaught and dropped out of the race at the Uhuru Gardens.
In the junior women’s 6km race, world cross country silver medallist Purity Cherotich was rewarded with a wild card selection having been tripped in the second lap and was left with a bruised foot forcing her to pull out of the race.
However, it was business as usual for some top athletes as World Youth 3,000m champion Isaiah Kiplangat, Janet Kisa, Linet Masai and Geoffrey Mutai won in their respective categories to book a ticket to the world cross country championship, in Punta Umbria, Spain on March 20.
With the expectation high and pressure mounted on the defending champions overflowing, both Ebuya and Chebet failed to star when required and will have to sit out as Kenya heads to Spain to try and defend both team and individual titles.
Chebet trip in the second lap when she was in front of the leading pack of that had about 15 athletes. She hang on but the pain was too much, forcing her to bow out.
However, it was different for Ebuya, who after collecting six wins in seven races in his European stay, he failed to weather the storm and had to pull out after the first lap holding on to his stomach.
“It was too fast for me and I have problems with my stomach. I’m sad I will not be able to defend my title in Spain,” he said.
But there was no denying Berlin marathon silver medallist Geoffrey Mutai his dream of representing the country in cross country.
He made his debut in national colours during the Africa Athletics Championship, In Nairobi where he scooped bronze in 10,000m race.
Now he is set to lead kenya’s delegation to Punta Umbria after he won the 12km race in 34:35.0.
It was the third victory for MUtai in as many races after chalking up the Itenb weekend meeting and the Kenya Police Championship.