Geoffrey Mutai, a seasoned road runner, gave the latest hint that he is the answer to head coach Julius Kirwa’s selection worries in the senior men’s 12-kilometre race with an easy win at the Kenya Police Cross Country Championship at the Ngong Race Course ground on Saturday.
Kirwa’s other prayer was also answered in regard to consistence as Pauline Njeri, an upstart in cross country, conquered an array of elite athletes to take home the women’s 8km race title.
Mutai made it two out of two, having clinched the seventh leg of the AK/KCB cross country leg in Iten a week ago.
Against strong field which included Sammy Kitwara, Levy Matebo, Titus Mbishei, Vincent Yator, Josephat Bett and Gideon Ngatunyi, Mutai ran well to triumph in 37:26.0, edging out Philemon Rono in 37:51.6 while Lucas Rotich was third in 37:55.0.
“I want to make the Kenya team and go on to win a medal for the country. I have no problems running cross country, but I have some reservation on how the team camp is governed and I will see if we can agree on some modalities with the coaches should I make the team,” said Mutai.
Run against the clock
Matebo, moved forward a few metres ahead of the rest as they made the first two kilometres, but it remained hard to break the pack of over 10 athletes in the lead.
The group remained together for the next two laps but Matebo was the first to drop on the start of the fourth lap. He was soon joined by Kitwara and Wilson Kipsang as the pace increased.
At 8km, Mutai started pulling away and only Rotich, Mbishei and Rono could hold on, albeit at a distance. At the bell it was apparent Mutai had the clock to run against, with the battle for second place being more intense.
Competition was stiff in the women’s category despite the still the absence of stop stars Linet Masai, Vivian Cheruiyot, Silvia Kibet, Grace Momanyi were all absent with permission to compete in the IAAF cross country series in Europe.
That left Njeri with the huge task of beating New York Marathon champion Edna Kiplagat. The Mashambani Club athlete, representing Vigilance House, prevailed to clock 29:01.2.