World Cross Country junior women’s champion Mercy Cherono announced her entry to the senior cadre with pomp as she easily won the 8km race in Kipkelion during the KCB/Athletics Kenya national cross country meeting on Saturday.
Cherono’s younger sister, Caroline Chepkoech, filled in the gap in the 6km race.
The men’s 12km race went to World junior 5,000m silver winner, John Chepkwony, who held out Charles Kibet as Nicholas Togom took the junior men’s race.
Win for three straight years
The performance throws the battle for the Sh1 milllion jackpot open as new sets of winners were unveiled in a windy and dry championship staged at Momoniat Primary and Secondary School grounds.
Home girl Cherono finally answered her critics with the victory and now has her eyes set on the bigger task of making the Kenya team to the World Cross Country Championship in Punta Umbria, Spain, in March.
“I thank God I have been able to win here for three straight years. It makes me proud to perform well at home,” said Cherono.
Left exams to run, had not trained
She however had Purity Cherotich to thank for the effort, the latter having pushed her all the way from the 4km mark when the two broke off from the lead pack.
Cherono held on gallantly to win in 30 minutes 2.6 seconds with Cherotich second in 30:03.8.
“I left my exams to come here and had not trained but credit to Cherotich; she was strong,” said Cherono, a Form Three student.
In the men’s 12km race, Kibet, the 11th finisher in the Bydgoszcz World Cross, was second best in 38:05.2 with Chepkwony taking the victory in 38:02.0.
The 8km junior men’s honours went to Nicholas Togom, another of the three sons of veteran Some Muge, father of Matthew Kisorio and Peter Kemeli.
Togom showed his challengers a clean pair of heels to take the title in 24:53.0.
Take their place in cross country
“My elder brothers have taken to the road [races], so I want to take their place in cross country,” said Togom.
“I’m proud to follow in her footsteps. This is a good start as she graduates to the seniors, I want to take her place in juniors,” Chepkoech, a Standard Seven pupil, said of Cherono after she won the 6km junior women’s race in 22:10.3.
12km senior men: John Chepkwony 38:02.0, Charles Kibet 38:05.2, Peter Koech 38:25.4, Wilson Too 38:31.0, Henry Chirchir 38:34.0, Bernard Rotich 38:36.3, Philip Langat 38:44.1
8km senior women: Mercy Cherono 30:02.6, Purity Cherotich 30:03.8, Mercy Chelagat 30:11.2, Caroline Kirui 30:40.1, Pamela Cherotich 30:49.1, Fancy Cherotich 30:57.6, Joyline Chelagat 31:13.3
8km junior men: Nicholas Togom 24:53.0, Isaac Langat 25:02.1, Japheth Korir 25:23.3, Ernest Ngeno 25:24.3, Isaac Koech 25:30.5, Vincent Rono 25:31.1, Mike Rotich 25:35.3
6km junior women: Caroline Chepkoech 22:10.3, Emmy Cheptoo 22:14.5, Irene Chepkorir 22:16.5, Jessica Chepng’eno 22:34.8, Jackline Chebii 22:42.3, Vicoty Chepng’eno 23:03.0, Joyline Chepng’eno 23:07.5