Joyce Chepkemoi took advantage of the absence of defending champion Hellen Obiri to win the senior women's 10 kilometres race in the Kenya Defence Forces Cross Country Championships at Thika 12th Engineers Barracks.
Nation Sport understands that Obiri, the World Cross Country champion, withdrew from the race moments before the start as a precautionary measure after she felt some discomfort on her hamstring.
Obiri was gunning for her fifth KDF cross country title after sealed her fourth crown last year on January 25 at Kahawa Barracks.
Back in Thika on Friday, Chepkemoi stayed behind the lead pack before she stepped on the gas pedal in the last 2km to win in 33:07:02 ahead of Moi Air Base's Dorcas Kimeli who timed 33.08.12. World Half Marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei, who was representing Modika, finished third in 33.10.06.
"I'm excited to be part of the KDF team that will compete at the nationals. My aim is to qualify for the Africa Cross Country Championships," Chepkemoi said.
In the senior men's 10km race, Kibiwott Kandie retained his title after clocking 28.59.55 ahead of Moi Air Base's Alfred Barakach who timed 29.04.47 while Phenus Kipleting was third in 29.11.96.
Like Chepkemoi, Kandie will be seeking to represent Kenya in the Africa Cross Country Championships.