Nicholas Kimeli and World Under-18 800 metres silver medallist Lydia Jeruto emerged winners in the senior categories of the 29th edition of Discovery cross country championships in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County on Sunday.
The race organized by Rosa Associati attracted over 3,000 athletes from various counties with majority using the race to prepare for next month's national cross country trials to be held in Nairobi.
Kimeli, a finalist in the Doha World Championships where he finished eighth in 5,000m race, ran from the front in a pack of eight athletes which was cut to six in the second lap.
Kimeli then engaged a higher gear in the last two kilometres to emerge winner in 29:46.7 ahead of Robert Kiprop who timed 29:59.1 while Josphat Kipchirchir settled for third in 30:07.7.
The athlete, who trains in Kaptagat, Elgeyo-Marakwet County, said he was using the race to gauge himself ahead of the national trials.
“I have been training well and I have seen that I’m in good shape. I’m ready for the trials in Nairobi and my target is the Africa Cross Country Championships in Lome, Togo,” said Kimeli who is also eyeing a slot in Team Kenya's 5,000m team for the Tokyo Olympics.
In the senior women’s category, Jeruto came up against seasoned marathoners. Jeruto, who trains in Torongo, Baringo County, shocked the field when she took the lead after her training partner Qualyne Kiprop dropped in the third lap.
The 800m specialist dropped Betty Chepkemoi in the last lap with experienced marathon runners in tow before cutting the tape in 27:16.79.
“I'm surprised I won today despite having prepared well. I will be focusing on making the team for the Africa Cross Country,” said Jeruto.
Former half marathon record holder Peris Jepchirchir came in second in 27:23.20 while Frankfurt Marathon champion Valary Aiyabei sealed the podium in 27:30.84.
Jepchirchir, who will be lining up for the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon race next month, said she was testing her body.
“With 25 days to go before I compete at the RAK Half Marathon, I wanted to run and gauge my performance ahead of the battle ahead,” said Jepchirchir.
US-based Sally Kipyego, who finished fifth, said she is in the country preparing for the US marathon trials as she eyes a place in their Olympics team.
In the 8km junior men's category, Cornelius Kemboi won the race clocking 23:46.3 ahead of Shadrack Kipchirchir who timed 23:50.4 while Gideon Rono was third in 24:03.7.
In the 6km junior women's category, Agnes Chebet crossed the line in 20:36.62 ahead of Winny Kimutai who clocked 20:56.76 while Mercy Jepkoech was third in 21:06.07.
10km Senior Men
1. Nicholas Kimeli 29:46.7
2. Robert Kiprop 29:59.1
3. Josphat Kipchirchir 30:07.7
4. Antipas Kandie 30:11.4
5. Edwin Kiplagat 30:12.5
8km Senior Women
1. Lydia Jeruto 27:16.79
2. Peris Jepchirchir 27:23.20
3. Valary Aiyabei 27:30.84
4. Vivian Kiplagat 27:32.61
5. Sally Kipyego 27:34.06
8km junior men
1. Cornelius Kemboi 23:46.3
2. Shadrack Kipchirchir 23:50.4
3. Gideon Rono 24:03.7
4. Emmanuel Kiplagat 24:20.6
5. Weldon Langat 24:21.6
6km junior women
1. Agnes Chebet 20:36.62
2. Winny Kimutai 20:56.76
3. Mercy Jepkoech 21:06.07
4. Naomi Jeptoo 21:10.54
5. Marion Cheruiyot 21:12.69