There were big wins at the weekend for Kenyan runners with former world cross country champion Joseph Ebuya emerging from the woodwork to chalk up a win in Spain and Olympic 1,500 metres champion Asbel Kiprop outshining multiple world champion Kenenisa Bekele in Edinburgh.
Ebuya, the world champion in 2010 won the 10.7-kilometre 58th Zornotza Cross Country in Amorebieta, clocking 31 minutes and 33 seconds with Vincent Chepkok - running his second race of the weekend in Europe - second in 31:43 ahead of Eritrean Hunegaw Mesfin (32:03).
Another Kenyan Lucas Rotich was fourth in 32:07.
Eritrean Nazareth Weldu was a surprise winner of the women’s 6.7km race at the meet in 23:45 ahead of more experienced Kenyan Priscah Jepleting (23:53) and Spain’s Lidia Rodriguez (23:56).
Kenyan victories were also registered at the 55th Campaccio International Cross Country race in Italy with Edwin Soi winning the 10km race in 29:13 in close finish ahead of world medallist Chepkok (29:13) and Kinde Athanaw of Ethiopia (29:14).
The 2010 world junior cross country champion Mercy Cherono won the women’s six-kilometre race in 19:26 with world 5,000m silver medallist Sylvia Kibet second (19:47) ahead of another new Ethiopian sensation Afera Godfay (19:49).
The world’s greatest ever distance runner, probably, Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, looked a pale shadow of his former self as he finished well down the field in 11th position in the international three kilometre race at the IAAF Permit Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country race on Saturday in Holyrood Park.
There were no excuses from Bekele as he struggled in a race which included two other 2008 Olympic gold medallists, Kenyan’s Asbel Kiprop the 1,500m champion and Brimin Kipruto winner of the 3,000m steeplechase in Beijing.
Kiprop clocked 9:20 ahead of surprise from British ranks Jonathan Hay (9:25) and Eliud Kipchoge (9:26).
In the marathon, Kenya’s Peter Kamais won the first big marathon of 2012 when he clocked new course record of 2:07:37 at the 10th Xiamen International Marathon. It was also a personal best for him.
Second was another Kenyan Dickson Chumba (2:08:21) and Ethiopian Solomon Tsege was third in 2:09:01 (also an PB).
Last year’s winner, Robert Kipchumba (2:08:07 course record), was sixth in 2:09:45. There was an Ethiopian win for Ashu Kasim in personal best 2:23:09 in the women’s race.
Kenyan Miriam Wangari in 2:31:30 was second, ahead of Ethiopian Merima Hasen (2:31:46).
In the Netherlands, Ethiopian Dawit Wolde was the best at the 40th Egmond Half Marathon in a fast 1:00:46, a new course record.
The former record was 1:01:19 by Greg van Hest set in 1999. Kenyan Gideon Kipketer was second (1:01:03) ahead of Eritrean Samuel Tsegay 1:01:09.
Newcomer Nicholas Kipkemboi was ninth in his first race in Europe.
The surprise winner in the women’s category was Ethiopian Meseret Hailu (a 2:30 marathon runner) in 1:11:18 (PB).
The pre-race favorite and Berlin Marathon winner, Florence Kiplagat of Kenya (1:11:21) and Kenya-born Dutchwoman Hilda Kibet (1:11:45) followed with Filomena Chepchirchir (1:11:48) fourth.