Doris Changeywo burst from the half-way stage to clinch the inaugural Shoe4Africa Women's 10km road race in this remote North Rift Valley Provincial town on Friday (6).
Changeywo, 21, who is also the East African Cross-Country champion, timed 35:45 to beat a field of 400 athletes who braved the windy conditions under a warm morning sun to win the race organised by American journalist and writerwriter Toby Tanser.
"The wind was a bit strong and the hard surface made running somewhat tricky, but it was a good race and a nice preparation for the cross country season," Changeywo, winner of last year's Nijmegen 5km international women's race in the Netherlands, told reporters. In second place was Sharon Cherop, the 5,000m bronze medallist at the 2000 World Junior Championships in Santiago, Chile. She clocked 36:02 ahead of Caroline Kiptoo, who reached the finish in 36:23.
"The first two kilometres were fine as we ran together in a group, but thereafter things started proving difficult," said Cherop. "At the turning point, we faced strong winds that slowed me down. But that did not stop me from winning. I think Doris was the better athlete today." The 21-yeaar-old Cherop trains at the American Tom Ratcliffe's camp in Iten with marathon stars such as Evans Rutto, Ben Maiyo and Lameck Aguta.
The race, which was co-organised by Kenyan-born Dutch marathoner Lornah Kiplagat and her husband, Pieter Langerhorst, started in Iten town, some 36Km north of Eldoret, which is Kenya's epicentre of distance running, and ended at the High Altitude Multi-Sports Centre, which is owned by the Dutch couple. Runners took the Iten-Eldoret road up to Katalel, six kilometres away where they turned back to the finish.
Athens Olympics 3000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi flagged it off while former three-time World champion over the distance, Moses Kiptanui, and twice former Boston Marathon champion and 1991 world 10,000m champion Moses Tanui, held the tape at the finish line.
On hand to lend the event a celebrity status were former Boston City Marathon winners Timothy Cherigat and Lameck Aguta, former runner-up in Boston and New York Marathon, Christopher Cheboiboch, retired pace-maker, Martin Keino and steeplechaser Abraham Cherono.
Zimbabwean runner, Sharon Tavengwa, who trains at the High Altitude Multi-Sports Centre, with Kiplagat, finished in 20th place in 38:02. Tavengwa, the winner of the Fortis Half-Marathon race held in Iten last month, and third in a New Year's Eve San Silvestre 15km road race in Mozambique on December 31, only jetted back to the country on Thursday night but had no excuses about the apparent jet lag which many thought affected her performance. She, too, paid tribute to Changeywo for her win.
Older townswomen amused spectators when they hit the road in a two-kilometre walk that also ended at the Training Centre.
Tanser said this would lift the morale of many talented female athletes whose potential is hampered by the lack of running shoes. The winner received US$500 while the rest up to 20th position each received US$100. The youngest and the oldest finishers each received US$50. Seventy-something-year-old Rebecca Kiplagat, mother of Lornah, was the oldest finisher in the walking category, which was flagged off by Phyllis Keino, wife of Kenya's distance running legend, Kipchoge.
Tanser, who authored 'Train Hard, Win Easy the Kenyan Way' and is member of the New York Road Runners Club, the organiser of the ING New York City Marathon, runs a foundation which collects used shoes in the US and ships them to African countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia.
Omulo Okoth (The Standard) for IAAF
Top 10 Finishers -
1. Doris Changeywo 35:45
2. Sharon Cherop 36:02
3. Caroline Kiptoo 36:23
4. Edna Kiplagat 36:32
5. Alson Ruto 36:40
6. Beatrice Ruto 36:48
7. Florence Chepkosgei 36:52
8. Silvia Jebiwott 36:55
9. Gladys Cherop 37:25
10. Monica Otwori 37:27