Upstart Agnes Kiprop lived up to her hot billing to retain her 15Km title against a classy field which included elite runners Sharon Cherop and Beatrice Toroitich at the fifth edition of Baringo Safaricom Half Marathon race in Kabarnet on Saturday.
Kiprop, who won last year’s title in 50:55.0, employed an electric pace to shake off Cherop, a 2002 World Cross Country runner and Toroitich, the 1999 Africa Junior 10,000 metres champion, to breast the tape in a slower time of 51:08.6.
Cherop (52:01.0) and Silvia Limo (52:43.7), another upstart, checked in second and third respectively.
“The victory was a surprise to me as the participation of Joan Ayabei and Beatrice complicated the race for me. I am happy with it as the cash prize would carter for my family’s Christmas budget. However, I need to strive to make team to World Cross Country Championships next year,” said Kiprop, a mother two from Kabiego village of Marakwet District.
Joan Ayabei and Torotich, who also finished second at the 2007 Valencia 15Km race in 52:27.4, returned a distant sixth and seventh places.
But Toroitich was comfortable with her performance. “I am still recovering from a nagging knee injury and I was on my return to the roads,” said the 28-year-old.
Little-known Eric Ndiema, broke away at the nine-kilometre mark to win in 1:02. 13.89 ahead quality runners among them this year’s Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon champion Moses Kigen.
Two upcoming runners, Yusuf Sungoka (62:16.4) and Vincent Kiplagat (62:18.0) came in second and third places respectively.
In Iten, Hellena Kirop, a seasoned marathon runner, won the Shoe4Africa five-kilometre women’s race in Iten, beating a field of over 500 runners .
Kirop, who is eying to run in Dubai marathon next month, braved a strong wind and hilly course at over 2,400m above sea level to clock 16:33.7 ahead of Janet Kisa 16:51.5 and Winny Jepkemboi 16:57.0.
The race, which is now an annual fixture on the Athletics Kenya calendar, is the brainchild of Kenya-born world half marathon record holder Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands.
Interestingly, Kirop was only using the race as speedwork training ahead of the Dubai race after her 40-kilometre long run on Friday.
“After my 40km long run, I wanted to work on my speed and when I got ahead of the pack and realised no one was responding, I decided to go for it,” said Kirop. “It’s a great Christmas gift for me.”
The race was flagged off by world 3,000 metres world record holder Daniel Komen and world 800 metres silver medallist and former champion Janeth Jepkosgei with ex-steeplechase Olympic gold medallist Mathew Birir and world hald marathon champion Mary Keitany holding the tape for the finishers.
The race is part of Shoe4Africa’s fund raising campaign to build a hospital in the athletics rich Eldoret with $700,000 having been raised so far through the organisation’s founder Toby Tanser, a former athlete who sits on the New York Marathon’s organising committee.