Mark Kiptoo crosses the finish line to win the 2010 Armed Forces Cross Country Championships 12km race at Kahawa, Nairobi. (Elias Makori) © Copyright
As the Kenya Police picked their team at the Ngong Racecourse circuit for the February 20 national championships that will also act as Kenya’s trials for the world meet, across the city of Nairobi, Kenya’s Armed Forces also held their national championships where veterans prevailed over fledgling upstarts in spectacular fashion.
Kenya’s fives times World cross country champion and former Marathon World record holder, Paul Tergat, watched from the sidelines, cheering on his Moi Air Base team as fellow airman Mark Kiptoo ran a tactical race to defeat defending 12km champion Vincent Kiprop, a man almost 10 years his junior.
In the women’s 8km race, the defending champion also fell when Innes Chenonge upset Linet Chepkurui with veteran former World 10,000m champion Sally Barsosio hanging in there for a 10th place finish on a challenging Kahawa Garrison course.
The men’s race was a real battle as the 33-year-old Kiptoo, running for the Laikipia Air Base, took the cautious approach, training the lead pack that included Leonard Oloitiptip of Moi Air Base (MAB), Gideon Gathimba (Laikipia Air Base), Shadrack Kosgei (Kahawa), Josephat Menjo (MAB) and Kiplimo Kimutai (LAB).
It then went down to a three-horse race between Kiptoo, Kiprop (running for home team Kahawa Garrison) and in the final 200 metres, a battle from which Kiptoo, Kenya’s team captain to last year’s World Cross Country Championships in Amman, emerged victorious.
“As the (Laikipia Air Base) team captain, it was my duty to bring together my team to a position that was safe before letting them battle for victory,” said Kiptoo, also a three times Armed Forces 5000m champion on the track who cruised to victory in 36 minutes, 8.1 seconds.
“Unlike last year when it was rainy, the sun was not kind on us this time. The course proved tough. The race was open for everybody and I didn’t care whether there was a defending champion in our midst or not. I am glad to have won,” added Kiptoo who finished seventh at last year’s Forces meet before finishing fourth at the national championships to make Kenya’s team to Amman.
For the 25-year-old Kiprop, the battle was lost but the big war lies ahead at the national championships where the Kenya Police and Kenya Prisons teams will provide the biggest opposition to the Armed Forces.
“We will immediately embark on residential training to arm ourselves well and, God-willing, we shall prevail at the nationals,” he said.
“I ran out of gas the last 50 metres but it was a good battle that was won by a credible person,” said Kiprop.
For the 19-year-old fresh recruit Oloitiptip, making his debut at the Forces championship, the race was a great learning experience: “I wasn’t confident whether to stay ahead of the pack or behind. It’s a great lesson for though.”
In the women’s race, the defending champion Chepkurui was unlucky after she lost her spikes four kilometres to the finish to surrender her crown to Chenonge who breasted the tape in 27:13.1 to lead a Moi Air Base podium sweep.
“I didn’t expect to win, what with a star-studded field. I thank God for that,” Chenonge said after clocking 27:22.7 followed by Olympic 1500m champion Nancy Jebet Lagat in an impressive third in 27:31.8.
After a second place last year, Olympian Peninah Arusei (27:33.0) was fourth followed by the 2007 World Cross Country junior bronze medallist Veronica Nyaruai.
“I am not satisfied since I wanted victory,” said Chepkurui. “I am disappointed that someone stepped on my spikes forcing me to run barefoot for the last four kilometres. Well, a soldier lives to fight another day.”
Preceding the cross country races, there was a 15km road race with the men’s and women’s titles going to Geoffrey Gikuni (42:48.0) and Kellen Waithera (52:01.0).
Elias Makori for the IAAF
Leading Results -
MEN (12 km):
1. Mark Kiptoo 36:08.5
2. Vincent Kiprop 36:10.0
3. Josephat Menjo 36:11.0
4. Leonard Oloitiptip 36:12.3
5. Kiplimo Kimutai 36:16.6
6. Shadrack Koskei 36:27.0
7. Sammy Kipketer 36:31.0
8. John Korir 36:35.4
9. Arita Omiso 36:41.6
10. Julius Kirui 36:50.0
1. Innes Chenonge 27:13.1
2. Linet Chepkurui 27:22.7
3. Nancy Jebet Lagat 27:31.8
4. Penina Arusei 27:33.0
5. Veronica Nyaruai 27:52.8
6. Mercy Njoroge 27:57.6
7. Gladys Cherono 28:13.0
8. Sharon Chemtai 28.17.0
9. Jemimma Chelangat 28:26.4
10. Sally Barsosio 28:42.6
15km Road Race:
1. Geoffrey Gikuni 42:48.0
2. Albert Kangor 42:54.0
3. Richard Bett 43:27.0
1. Kellen Waithera 52:01.0
2. Everline Atancha 52:22.0
3. Sheila Chesang 53:07.8
- Mark Kiptoo crosses the finish line to win the 2010 Armed Forces Cross Country Championships 12km race at Kahawa, Nairobi. (Elias Makori) © Copyright
- Innes Chenonge crosses the finish line to win the women's 8km race at the 2010 Kenyan Armed Forces Cross Country Championships at Kahawa, Nairobi. (Elias Makori) © Copyright
- Defending champion Vincent Kiprop (508) leads the men's field at the 2010 Kenyan Armed Forces National Cross Country Championships at Kahawa, Nairobi. Mark Kiptoo won the race with Kiprop second. (Elias Makori) © Copyright
- The women's field in the 8km race at the 2010 Kenyan Armed Forces Cross Country Championships at Kahawa, Nairobi. Innes Chenonges (right, 702) won the race. (Elias Makori) © Copyright