Five time world cross-country champion Paul Tergat has signalled his desire to retire from cross country running a head of his eagerly awaited marathon debut in London next April in style.
He plans to leave the scene with another world title in Dublin in the same devastating form he exhibited today in the Armed Forces championships for Kenyan servicemen.
The King of the Road was overwhelmingly superior over his equally experienced peers today when he won the 21st Kenya Armed Forces 12km men's title after ploughing through a muddy course around a racecourse in the outskirts of Nairobi.
He beat Tom Nyariki who has been nursing an injury by eight seconds to post 36 minutes 21.1 seconds.
"All I can say is that so far so good my training programme is progressing on well and I am looking forward to another great race in Dublin," said Tergat who was third in the world championships last year.
"The other important race ahead for me is the national championships which are a dress rehearsal for my marathon debut," added Tergat, 31.
"I never like to watch a cross country race from the sideline."
Tergat remained with the leaders who included Nyariki, Patrick Ivuti, Paul Koech, John Kibowen and Joshua Chelang'a for 10km before the field thinned out to Nyariki, Tergat and Ivuti.
He finally broke away with 800m to go never to be touched again. "Nyariki and other top runners are a high calibre group which you never take for granted," said Tergat who has featured in the Kenyan championships since 1992 with the exception of last year when he skipped due to injury.
Nyariki was equally happy to record his second race of the season, the first being the first KAAA weekend meeting in Nairobi last November while Ivuti took third position after doing most of the pace setting.
Typical of Kenyan championships, once in a while a totally unknown athlete emerge from the highlands to upset the established order. Today the pride of place went to19-year-old Winfrida Kwamboka, the surprise winner of the 8km senior women race.
She showed scant respect to her better known compatriots relegating Boston and Chicago marathon champion Catherine Ndereva, cross country aces Naomi Mugo and Hellen Kimaiyo to second, third and fourth places respectively.
"I had a great race," said the diminutive athletes. "As I have been training in high altitude Ngong Hills area. I am looking forward to the nationals."
Fifteenth in last year's Kenya national championships, the 4' 1" Kwamboka has been a dominant force in local cross country meetings this season winning in Machakos (December 2, 2000), Mosocho (Dec 30) and fourth in Eldoret (Jan 13 2001).
She was 10th in 10,000m in last year's Kenyan Olympics trials.
The 1988 Commonwealth Games 3,000 m steeplechase champion John Kosgei also made a triumphant return to top level competition after a two years hiatus after out-pacing the 1999 IAAF 4km world cross country champion Benjamin Limo in a closely fought race race which.
Equally impressive was winner of the 4km women's race Rose Cheruiyot, the wife of former 5000 metres world champion Ismael Kirui who was in the sideline due to injury .
Cheruiyot, eleventh in the 5000 metres final at the Sydney Olympics is a mother of two. This was her first race since last September in Sydney and appeared the better runner over Barsosio in clocking 14:03.7 against 14:19.00.
Peter Njenga for the IAAF
Results: Men 4km: 1. John Kosgei (Nairobi) 11:54.07; 2. Benjamin Limo (Nanyuki) 11:57.8; 3. Laban Rotich (Nanyuki) 11:57.12; 4. Stephen Rerimoi (Gilgil) 11:59.8; 5. James Kosgei (Lanet) 12:10.9; 6. Stephen Kipkorir (Gilgil) 12:14.02; 7. Stephen Chepkisa (Gilgil) 12:14.09; 8. Masai Kwemoi (Gilgil) 12:23.05; 9. Gabriel Kiprono (Kahawa) 12:24.02; 10. Simon Kipruto (Mombasa) 12:25.05.
12km: 1. Paul Tergat (Nairobi) 36:21.1; 2. Tom Nyariki (Lanet) 36:29.00; 3. Patrick Ivuti (Nairobi) 36:33.1; 4. Paul Koech (Kahawa) 36:44.7; 5. John Kibowen (Nanyuki) 37:00.1; 6. Philip Tarus (Lanet) 37:05.2; 7. Harun Toroitich (Nairobi) 37:08.0; 8. Joshua Chelang'a (Nairobi) 37:11.1; 9. Mark Kosgei (Nairobi) 37:21.0; 10. Kiprono Matui (Lanet) 37:22.5.
Women 4km: Rose Cheruiyot (Armed Forces) 14:03.7; 2. Sally Barsosio (Armed Forces) 14:19.00; 3. Isabella Ochichi (Police) 14:25.6; 4. Edith Masai (Prisons) 14:29.7; 5. Naomi Mugo (AF) 14:35.9; 6. Nduku Kyalo (AF) 14:37.9; 7. Grace Njoki (Armed Forces) 14:38.8; 8. Susan Muthoni (Armed Forces) 14:46.6; 9. Grace Misati (Prisons) 14:55.8; 10. Eveylene Mwango (Police)) 14:57.0.
Women 8km: 1. Winfrida Kwamboka (Armed Forces) 28:23.9; 2. Catherine Ndereva (Prisons) 28:35.9; 3. Naomi Wangui Mugo (Armed Forces) 28:38.6; 4. Hellen Kimaiyo (Telkom) 28:40.0; 5.Jackline Okemwa (Armed Forces) 28:58.7; 6. Jane Omoro (Telkom) 28:59.0; 7. Gladys Achiba (Telkom) 29:03.3; 8. Irene Kwambai (Telkom) 29:04.1; 9. Ndunge Masila (Armed Forces) 29:22.1, 10. Lucia Subano (Telkom) 29:35.8.
Armed Forces Half marathon on January 26 at the Ngong Racecourse.
Men — A. Limo (Nairobi), 1:27.59; 2. J. Kipsang (Nairobi), 1:28.04; 3. M. Koskey (Nairobi), 1:28.11; 4. A, Karanja (Nairobi) 1:28.34; 5. B. Mbithi (Fila), 1:28.42; 6. S. Ndungu, (Individual), 1:28.58; 7. J. Rangira, (Nyk), 1:29.24; 8. F. Kioko (Individual), 1:29.43; 9. V. Kibiwot, (Lanet), 1:3.2; 10. W. Koech (Nairobi) 1:33.03
Women: 1. Ruth Kalunda (Fila), 1:49.17; 2. Grace Chebet (Telkom) 1:51.19; 3. Caren Areba (Telkom) 1:54.34; 4. Marieta Kioo (Telkom) 2:13.20; 5. Olipa Magoma (Sportsman) 2:20.40.