Nyahururu, Kenya - Emily Chebet, the 2010 IAAF World Cross Country Championships senior women's champion, was the star of the opening meeting of the 2012/13 KCB/AK national cross country season while Peter Matelong produced a polished victory in the men’s 12km long race.
Sheila Chemng’etich Keter and Moses Mukono took the honours in the junior women's 6km and junior men's 8km races respectively at an event that attracted 420 runners to the lush Nyahururu Golf Club, which featured a hard winding course with a number of climbs,
Chebet returns to form
Since stunning the favoured Linet Masai in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz three years ago, Emily Chebet has struggled with injuries that impeded her expected rise.
However, having got a bronze medal at the Africa Cross Country Championships in Johannesburg earlier this year and winning the 10km race at Nairobi Stanchart International Marathon, Chebet is slowly returning to the form that took her to a world title.
In a quality field of 57 starters, Chebet sprinted away from three challengers with 80m to go and broke the tape in 27:08.0
“The race was nice and the course had many hills but I felt my body was responding well and I was relaxed until the end. My wish is to return to Poland and hopefully, repeat what I did there in 2010,” reflected Chebet.
After 2km, the leading pack consisted of Chebet ,her Bydgoszcz teammates Gladys Chemweno and Hannah Gatheru, as well as 2011 Kenyan junior cross country champion Janet Kisia, Pauline Kahenya and Irene Jebet.
The front runners had thinned to four at the 6km mark with Kisia leading the way from, Chemweno, Kahenya and Chebet in that order but around the final bend Chebet pounced and passed Kisia in a move reminiscent of how she passed Masai for the world title in Poland.
“I was confident of my finish and I have been training harder since I recovered from the injury that saw me not defend my title in Spain (in 2011). I will also go for the (series) jackpot so that I can be ready for the trials,” added Chebet.
Matelong out to follow in brother's footsteps
Peter Matelong crossed the finish line with a wide grin on his face as he started his bid to emulate his elder brother, Richard, the steeplechaser who also captained Kenya in Bydgoszcz, with a devastating burst of acceleration in the last 100m of the men’s long race.
“I have been training with my brother in Kiganjo and he has been motivating me to make the team,” said the 23-year-old who has yet to pull on a Kenyan vest, after completing the course in 36:14.3.
“The funny thing is that I dreamt of winning this race on Friday and that came true so I hope I will achieve my bigger vision.”
There was no doubt the race would be won by either Matelong, Isaac Korir, who pushed the pace for much of the race from the half way mark, and Hosea Mwok Macharinyang as the trio heard the bell well ahead of the rest of the156 listed starters.
Matelong made a move for the lead at a hill with 800m to go but Korir, who had earlier tried to charge away from the field after 6km, responded to edge back in front before Matelong surged again with the finish line in sight.
Korir and Mwok Macharinyang arrived at the tape at the same time to claim the runner-up spot and were separated by just three-tenths-of-a-second with the verdict going to the latter runner.
Rudisha inspiration for Mukono
Coming from the same village and training at the same camp with 800m record holder, David Rudisha has been the motivation fuelling the 16-year-old Mukono’s rise in the sport.
“Although I’m a distance runner, he has been giving me advice and when I train with him in camp, it gives me the hunger to do as well as he does,” said Mukono, who was eighth in the 2012 World Junior Championships 5000m.
He broke away from the field on the second lap to win unchallenged in 29:43.0.
“Just like Rudisha, I like running from the front and controlling the pace and this is what I have been working on.”
In sharp contrast, Sheila Chepng’etich Keter sealed a smash-and-grab victory over namesake Roveline Chepng’etich in the absorbing opening junior women 6km race.
Chepng’etich Keter, who finished sixth in the 2011 World Youth Championships 1500m kept close to her challenger until the last 30m before moving past her and winning in 20:20.5
“I was in good shape and I knew I could sprint for the finish so I used her to pace me. I hope to make the Kenya team for the World Cross and this is a good start,” said the 17-year-old student at Kapboroa Secondary School.
Mutwiri Mutuota (Capital FM) for the IAAF
Senior men 12km
1. Peter Matelong 36:14.3
2. Hosea Mwok Macharinyang 36:18.6
3. Isaac Korir 36:18.9
4. Hillary Kemboi 36:35.1
5. Charles Kibet 36:56.5
6. Richard Mureithi 37:03.4
7. Jarius Kipchoge 37:23:03
8. Linus Chumba 37:38.8
9. Bernard Mureithi 37:39.6
10. Eric Ndiema 37:44.7
Senior women 8km
1. Emily Chebet 27:08.0
2. Janet Kisa 27:10.0
3. Gladys Chemweno 27:14.1
4. Pauline Kahenya 27:19.3
5. Irene Jebet Cheptaa 27:32.3
6. Beatrice Chepkemoi 27:40.5
7. Ann Wanjiru 28:11.3
8. Joyline Chelangat 28:24.6
9. Lucy Liavoga 28:34.1
10. Emmy Chepkurui 28:46.5
Junior men 8km
1. Moses Mukono 23:49.0
2. Emmanuel Bett 23:53.4
3. Isaac Langat 23:59.1
4. Gilbert Kirui 24:03.6
5. Katui Muia 24:07.0
6. Elphas Cheptek 24:10.1
7. Hillary Langat 24:13.6
8. Amos Langat 24:20.0
9. Peter Namuria 24:25.3
10. Clement Kemboi 24:32.7
Junior women 6km
1. Sheila Chepng’etich Keter 20:20.1
2. Roveline Chepng’etich 20:20.5
3. Agnes Jebet 20:29.3
4. Jackline Chebogwen 20:38.6
5. Eva Cherono 20:51.7
6. Sheila Jeptoo 21:18.3
7. Hellen Gitoe 21:37.6
8. Joyline Cherotich 21:40.8
9. Margaret Murinjo 21:48.6
10. Vivian Chepkemei 21:50.2