After playing second fiddle to seasoned athletes for eight years, Fredrick Musyoki (North Eastern) finally had his day in the sun, winning the senior men’s race at the Kenya Prisons Cross-country Championships at the Uhuru Gardens.
There was also a new winner in women’s 8km race after Cynthia Cherotich (Prisons Staff Training College - PSTC) hit the front halfway into the race to win in 27min,12.3sec, ahead of Nancy Nzinza (27:26) and Grace Kimanzi (27:43.7). It was a great improvement for Cherotich, who finished third last year.
In the men’s race, 23-year-old Musyoki from Machakos, who is also the 2007 World Youth 1,500m gold medallist, made his intentions clear barely three kilometres into the race, as he swept the field and the hot conditions apart to triumph in 35 minutes and 55.6 seconds.
Men’s defending champion Timothy Kiptoo stayed away while the heat proved too much for last year’s winner Eunice Mumbua who finished 13th in 28:35.4.
Musyoki, fresh from clinching the KCB/AK Cross-country Series jackpot, has always finished among the top four in the category but has never won the race since making his cross-country debut in 2007.
DEFIED HAMSTRING INJURY
Musyoki defied a hamstring injury that had that locked him out for months before gradually recovering on time to prevail in Embu and Kapsokwony to consolidate his lead in the KCB/AK Series. He also finished third in Nairobi and fifth in Eldoret.
On Saturday, Musyoki, who finished second in last year’s event, beat the 2012 Africa Cross-country Championships senior men’s winner John Mwangangi (Prisons Headquarters - PHQ) to second place by more than 90 metres. Mwangangi clocked 36:09.0, followed by Frankline Ngelel from Rift Valley (36:16.7).
Musyoki stayed behind London Olympics 5,000m bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa (Nyanza) and Daniel Muinde (PHQ) after the first 2km lap.
The duo was later joined by a pack of eight athletes after the first 4km; Mwangangi, who is also the reigning World Half Marathon bronze medallist, the 2011 World 1,500m silver medallist Silas Kiplagat (Coast) and 2008 World Junior 3,000m steeplechase champion Jonathan Ndiku.
Musyoki, who also finished fourth in 1,500m at the 2008 World Junior Championships, then opened a 10-metre gap as the battle became a two-horse race between him and Mwangangi.
Musyoki widened the gap to 60m with two laps to go before going for glory. Muinde fell to 7th, Longosiwa wound up 13th while Kiplagat finished 27th.
“My hamstring injury which worsened last year got me worried but I thank God I recovered before this year’s cross country season. It feels great to win here today,” said Musyoki who has set his sights on winning the national cross-country title and later the Africa title.
“I have always finished among the top five but I not won before. It’s a good break and it feels great. I am targeting a hat-trick now at the nationals and Africa events,” said Musyoki, who finished fourth at the nationals last year but was locked out of Team Kenya for the World Cross-country Championships in Poland by a hamstring injury.
Women’s champion Cherotich who also won St Dennis Half Marathon and Rabat Half Marathon titles, is also eyeing the national title and a place in Team Kenya for the Africa Cross-country Championships.