Marsabit's Hillary Kering finally exorcised the demons that saw him play second fiddle several times to win this year's Kenya Defence Forces Cross Country men's 10km race on Friday at Moi Airbase.
The battle fast panned out to a six-horse race within the first four kilometres before Kering and John Chepkwony from Thika decided to break with four kilometres to go. In hot pursuit was seasoned long distance runner Franklin Ngelel from Laikipia Airbase.
Kering and Chepkwony exchanged leads heading the last two kilometres but it's the Marsabit athlete who won his maiden title in 29 minutes and 34.3 seconds.
Chepkwony wilted to allow Ngelel overtake him for second place in 29:39.8.
Chepkwony came in third in 29:48.2 followed by veteran Steven Arita of Nairobi in 29:49.7.
"It's such a good feeling to win after many years of trying," said Senior Private Kering. "My best show was in 2015 when I finished third."
The 25-year-old Kering, who won bronze during the regional military cross country in Burundi last year, hopes to get a manager and secure good races abroad.
Kering now hopes to win at the National Cross Country Championships in February and represent Kenya at the Africa Cross Country championships in March in Algeria.
Ngelel, the national 5,000m champion, said the event is part of his preparations for the Commonwealth Games trials next month.