Augustine Choge and guest participant Caroline Chepkoech are the new Kenya Police Service Cross Country champions.
Choge, who is the World Indoor 3,000m bronze medallist, celebrated his 30th birthday in style with a commanding gun-to-tape victory in the men’s 10km race, clocking 31 minutes and 33.4 seconds at the Ngong Racecourse on Saturday.
It was a thriller as Choge, the 2010 Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion, brave a two-horse chase in the last 500m from North Eastern’s James Kitum and teammate Emmanuel Bett to claim his maiden police cross win.
The performance was also enough to see Choge atone for a second place finish last year, beating Kitum to second in 31:35.4 as Bett wrapped up the top three places in 31:39.4.
Last year’s winner Geoffrey Kamworor withdrew at the last minute following his doctor’s advice as he has just started training, having recovered from a leg injury.
“It was a tough race despite having controlled the race from the front,” said Choge, the 2005 World Cross Country junior champion. “I came here to win and I had no doubt about that since I am in great shape.”
Choge thanked Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge for his advice, saying it did the trick at the race.
“He has been pushing me to the limit and I should thank him for the inspiration since I made a return from a long lay-off last year,” said Choge.
Choge now shifts his focus to the National Championships due February 18 where he would be hoping to make Team Kenya once again for the World Cross Country Championships planned for April 26 in Kampala, Uganda.
Choge, who won silver in 3,000m at the 2012 World Indoor before bronze over the same distance at the 2016 World Indoor, said he will not compete in any indoor races this season.
“I want to put all my energy and focus on track in 10,000m and 5,000m since I want to make the team for World Championships,” said Choge, who last competed for Kenya at the 2005 Helsinki Worlds in 1,500m.
CHEPKOECH TOO GOOD
Chepkoech, who is fresh from winning the Antrim International Cross Country on January 14, took charge of the women’s 10km race with two laps to go to triumph in 35:49.0, beating another guest athlete Lucy Cheruiyot to second in 36:11.2.
The 2012 World Half Marathon bronze medallist Pascalia Chepkorir came in third place in 36:15.5 while Beatrice Chepkoech, who led for three laps finished fourth.
African Games 5,000m champion Margaret Chelimo settled fifth in 36:42.3 while two times World marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, who is preparing for Boston Marathon in April, was seventh in 37:01.01.
“I just want to win the nationals then focus on the World Cross Country,” said Chepkoech, who represented Kenya last at the 2013 World Cross as a junior, finishing fourth.