World Cross Country bigwigs shared the spoils at the seventh leg of Athletics Kenya/Kenya Commercial Bank Cross Country meeting in Iten where they thrilled the huge crowds as they braved the scorching sun at the soft course circuit on Saturday.
After failing to impress in Bygozscz, Poland, last year, Linet Chepkurui and junior star Faith Chepng’etich announced their intent to improve their pecking order this year as they easily won their races.
Chepkurui, who runs for the Armed Forces team, formed the leading pack that included former World Cross junior champion Rose Kosgei, two-time World Cross winner Violah Kibiwott and World 5,000m silver medallist Sylvia Kibet and stayed ahead at the two-kilometre mark before the battle reduced to Chepkurui and Kosgei.
Breathed down her neck
The victor stepped up the pace as Kosgei breathed down her neck and finally broke away to breast the tape in 28 minutes and 26.6 seconds ahead of Kosgei (28:32.0), Kibet (28:51.0), World Cross medallist Fridah Domogole (28:52.3) and upstart Ogla Kimaiyo (29:01.2).
Chepkurui, who broke the 12km world record last year, said: “I broke away early since I was in top form. I have learnt cross country tactics and I will make the national team for a maiden podium appearance.”
Kibet said she used the races to prepare for the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, Korea, in August.
Chepng’etich ruled the 6km battle in 21:07.00, ahead of Janet Kisa (21:17.7) and Naomi Chepng’eno (21:22.8). The barefoot runner in Poland said: “I need gold at the World Cross Country this year but I still train to run in shoes.”
Battle strong runners
Africa Senior 10,000m bronze medallist Geoffrey Mutai (37:05.3) shook off new talents Philemon Rono (37:52.3) and Richard Sigei (37:59.9) to win the senior men’s race. The 2010 Rotterdam and Berlin marathons runner-up said.
“I needed to utilise my endurance to battle strong runners.”
World junior 3,000m champion Isaiah “Chairman” Kiplang’at opened a 100-metre gap to win the men’s 8km race in an impressive 24:35.0.