Spectators were treated to a rare spectacle when Matthew Kisorio and KCB/Athletics Kenya Cross Country series Jackpot hopeful, Charles Kibet, engaged in a cut-throat battle in the senior men’s 12km event at the sixth leg in Nyahururu on Saturday.
The crowd at Kwa Nguku grounds stood still as the two engaged in a neck-and-neck sprint to the tape before Kisorio carried the day by a split second to shatter Kibet’s chance of assuming the top position among the male front runners in the hunt for the jackpot share.
First competitive race of season
Kisorio, who was running in his first competitive cross country event in the country since the season started, clocked 34 minutes 52.1 seconds. Diminutive Kibet was 0.4 seconds behind.
Kisorio, who is from an athletics family – his late father, Some Muge, was in the first Kenya World Cross team in the 1980s and his younger brother, Nicholas Togom, was third in the junior men’s race yesterday – said his future in the sport is in road races.
The athlete from Kosirai in Nandi County said he was focused more on making the Kenyan team to Punta Umbria, Spain, the venue of next year’s World Cross Country championships.
The second last leg of the seven-leg series was held under clear skies with the 600 runners – 97 junior women, 187 junior men, 110 senior women and 200 senior men – battling mild head wind in the first kilometre of the 2km loop.
Kisorio said: “I want to run a cross country before going to road racing where I feel my future is. But I cannot forget track since it made me what I am.”
Kibet will be need to run and win in the last leg, set for Iten in the next two weeks, if he is to improve on his two wins and two runners-up finishes he holds among the Jackpot favourites.
But he said he will not race in any other competition and will go into serious training in preparation for the national trials where he anticipates the battle for slots in the Kenya team is going to be a matter of life and death.
Junior athlete Faith Chepng’etich is now the most favoured in the jackpot race, having chalked up her third win on Saturday.
Women’s race had big names
The Keriget Township Primary School (Molo) pupil, who was in the national team to this year’s World Cross team in Poland, won the 6km race in 20:02.3, ahead of team mate Naomi Chemoi (20:13.3).
The junior men’s 8km race was won by Philemon Rono (23::23.1), ahead of Isaac Langat (23:29.0), Nicholas Togom (2331.3) and Henry Kiprotich Sand (23:35.0), respectively.
The senior women’s 8km race had big names and at the end of the four laps it was Sharon Cherop who emerged victorious in 26:13.0. Linet Chepkirui took the second position in 26:25.7 after being dropped by Cherop soon after the halfway mark.