World Under-18 medallists Edinah Jebitok, George Manangoi, Lydia Jeruto, Samson Ndigiti and Caren Chebet made their presence felt as the third leg of Athletics Kenya Track and Field meet ended on Saturday at Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos.
The event also saw some of Kenya's senior athletes including World 1,500m silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot, national 200m and 400m champion Maximilla Imali and Olympic 800m bronze medallist Margaret Nyairera start their track season.
Also to make their first appearances this season are national 400m hurdles champion Maureen Jelagat and Kenya’s 400m champion Collins Omae.
Keringet's Jebitok, who won bronze in 1,500m at the World Under-18, followed up her 1,500m victory from the second leg in Kisii with another win in Machakos, clocking 4 minutes and 14.1 seconds to triumph, beating World Under-18 800m silver medallist Lydia Jeruto from Torongo to second place in 4:14.4.
World Cross Country mixed relays gold medallist Winfred Mbithe from Makueni settled third in 4:14.7.
"It feels great to win here and I hope for many more victories as I refine for some major forthcoming races," said Jebitok, who hopes to make it to the Commonwealth Games due April next year in Gold Coast.
World Under-18 10,000m race walk bronze medallist Nyamira's Samuel Ndigiti came in second after his victory in Kisii in 43:34.5. Ndigiti lost the battle to Kenya's representative at the London World Championships in August, Simon Wachira, who timed 43:13.2 in the 10,000m race walk as Nyahururu's Stephen Mutuku romped home third in 44:12.7.
Rongai's World Under-18 1,500m gold medallist Manangoi came in third in men's 1,500m race in 3:40.1 behind the winner Justus Soget from Torongo (3:36.6) and Kenya Defence Forces' Benjamin Kiget (3:38.4).
Caren Chebet from Londiani came in third in the women's 10,000m race, losing to teammate Emily Chebet, the 2015 World Under-18 3,000m silver medallist.
Caren timed 35:31.3 while Emily (33:59.4) was followed by Faith Ling'aa of Torongo in 35:01.1.
Emily's sister Sandra Chebet claimed victory in women's 5,000m in 15:50.2, beating Beatrice Chebet also of Londiani and Machakos' Nancy Nzisa in 16:03.5 and 16:10.8 respectively.
Imali, who represented Kenya in 400m at the London World Championships, won both women's 100m and 200m races in 11.1 and 23.5 seconds, beating her Kenya Police teammates Millicent Ndoro (11.6, 24.1) and Joan Cherono (11.8, 24.5) in both races. “I am using the two races for speed,” Imali said.
Cheruiyot, the 2017 Diamond League Series 1,500m winner, settled third in men's 5,000m in 13:51.5, losing the contest to Nyahururu’s John Muritu (13:43.8) and Commonwealth Games 3,000m steeplechase champion Jonathan Muia (13:46.0).
Nyairera competed for Prisons in 4x400m where they finished third behind Police and Lanet while Jelagat won the women’s 400m hurdles in 60.8.
The 2010 World Under-20 10,000m champion David Bett from Keringet won the men’s 10,000m in 28:48.7, beating Gilbert Kimunyan (Torongo) in 28:49.9 and Dickson Simba (Run Together) who timed 28:56.7.
Cornelius Tuwei (Nanyuki) won men’s 800m race in 1:45.3 with Emily Cherotich (Keringet) 2:03.6 going for women’s top honours.
The poor standard of the newly laid tartan track that is already peeling off, attracted criticism from Athletics Kenya and athletes. Athletes said that they can easily get injuries from the bumpy track.
“It’s good to have a track since its better than nothing. However, they should have consulted us first before it was laid,” said AK president Jackson Tuwei.
“They will need to lay it again since it will reach a time when it will become dangerous to the athletes.”
“They have even used nails to stick the blue tartan track. It’s dangerous,” said an athlete, who requested not to be named. “Some areas are bumpy and not conducive for sprinters.”