Leah Malot confirmed her status as one of the most durable distance runners in the world with victory in the 11th edition of the Great Rift Cross Country Championships in Eldoret on Sunday, hardly 24 hours after finishing third in the Kenyan Armed Forces Championships. In the men’s event, reigning World 5,000m champion Richard Limo, the defending champion in the 12km race, was relegated to third.
After finishing third behind Isabella Ochichi, and Jane Wanjiku on Saturday, Malot travelled to Eldoret, 312 west of the capital Nairobi, and attempted the 8km race, which attracted more than 100 athletes and easily emerged victorious ahead of Alice Timbilil in 28:32.94 seconds against 28:39.30.
Defending champions have historically found it difficult to retain their titles in this race which is organized by the 1991 World 10,000m champion Moses Tanui, and this year it was the turn of World 5,000m champion Richard Limo to face a stiff challenge.
Last year Limo had halted Wilberforce Talel’s campaign for a fourth win but this time it was Limo’s ambitions which were thwarted by Robert Cheruiyot who clocked 36:57.80, followed by debuntant Linus Maiyo in 37:16.10, while Limo had to be content with third in 27:26.80.
Maiyo who was running this distance for the first time, is obviously an athlete to watch and could easily follow the same path some of Kenya's best, like 1997 World champions, (men’s 5000m) Daniel Komen and (women’s 10,000m) Sally Barsosio who both took victories in this Eldoret race before winning their track World titles.
Primarily this race serves as a talent hunt and a record 600 athletes took part in the junior men's 8km race, won by Moses Mosop (24:26.00) followed by school boy Augustine Choge in 24:27.60.
Peter Njenga for the IAAF
Selected results -
Senior men 12 km: 1. Robert Cheruiyot, 36:57.20; 2. Linus Maiyo 37:16.10; 3.
Richard Limo 37:26.80; 4. Ben Kimwale, 37:31.00; 5. Hosea Kogo 37:31.50; 6. James Rotich 37:38.90.
Senior women 8km: 1. Leah Malot, 28:32.94; 2. Alice Timbilil 28:39.30; 3. Alice Chelagat, 28:50.60; 4. Faith Chemutai 29:05.1; 5. Faith Cheruto 29:08.60; 6.
Jeniffer Chesinon 29:12.90.
Junior men 8km: 1. Moses Mosop, 24:26.00; 2. Augustine Choge, 24:27.60; 3. Moses Kigen, 24:48.20; 4. Mathew Sigei, 24:49.30; 5. Luka Kibet 24:53.70; 6.
Linus Chumba, 25:03.90.
Junior women 6km:1. Jepchumba Koech, 21:14.25; 2. Emily Chebet, 21:26.50; 3. Peninah Chepchumba, 21:39.40; 4. Salome Chepchumba, 21:51.80; 5. Sharon Kipsang 22:02.20; 6. Pamela Kipchoge 22:06.80.