Panuel Mkungo of Taita Taveta County clocked 28 minutes, 51 seconds to win his fifth consecutive Coast Region Cross Country Championship at Kijiwetanga Primary School ground in Malindi County on Saturday.
Twenty-five year-old Mkungo, who lives in the USA, failed in his attempt to equal the course record time of 28:12.0 that he set at Kilifi grounds in 2014 and attributed this to the hot and humid conditions experienced in the town during the championships.
He returned to the country recently and has been training with focus on a slot in the national team for the World Cross Country Championships slated for March 30 in Aarhus, Denmark.
“It is also part of my preparations for the USA road races including the 12km Blooms Race to be held in Washington in May, this year,” said Mkungo, a one-time Philadelphia Half Marathon winner.
Mkungo led other four team mates, Dominic Mailu who finished second in 29:14.0, Daniel Pkemoi in third (29:20.0), fourth-placed Lameck Mwakio (29:24.0) and Benjamin Cheruiyot in fifth (30:49.0).
Cleophas Arega of Mombasa County finished sixth. In 10km senior women race, 15-year-old Rose Nthei surprised other elder runners to win in 35:25.0, followed by Rukiya Karisa Kilifi who took 36:17.0.
Third-place went to Lucy Wanjiru of Taita Taveta, who finished at 38:01.5, while her colleague Dorcas Mwadime finished fourth in 38:53.0.
“I was advised to run in the 6km junior women race but I refused because I want to compete with top athletes during national event,” Rose said.
Allan Muteti of Taita Taveta won the men junior 8km race in a time of 27.00.0 followed by Matheka Mutuko of Kilifi, who finished at 31:12.0 as Kilifi’s Katana Kenga scooped third position in 31:27.0.