Moses Masai leads in the senior men's 12km race at the 2006 Kenyan Championships (Omulo Okoth) © Copyright

Ngatunyi takes Prisons title, Masai and Wangare win at Police Champs - Kenyan Cross Country report

Nairobi, KenyaGideon Ngatunyi, fourth at last year's World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, was the undisputed winner of the 12km senior men's race at the Kenya Prisons Championships in Nairobi on Saturday.

Schoolgirl Christine Kambua Muyanga led secondary school students to take the top three positions in the women's 8km race after four-time Boston Marathon and reigning World Marathon champion, Catherine Ndereba, and former three-time 4km World champion, Edith Masai, skipped the event for various reasons.

Held at the Uhuru Gardens near Wilson Airport against the backdrop of roaring light aircraft, the event was a welcome inclusion in a country on the precipice of political ruin following weeks of violence.

Elsewhere across the city, Kenya Police held their championships in front of near-empty stands at the home of Cross Country racing, the Ngong race course where former African junior 10,000m and 5000m champion, Moses Masai, won the senior men's race and Margaret Wangare winning the 8km women's race.

Ngatunyi strong from the from - Prisons race

Ngatunyi and Thomas Longosiwa opened the early pace, leading by some five metres from the second batch which included world marathon champion, Luke Kibet, Paul Mwaga and Timothy Kiptoo.

Longosiwa dropped out after the third lap due to stomach upset, and Ngatunyi upped the tempo. With every sign that the lanky lad from Maasailand was headed for victory, the race for runner-up dominated the remaining three laps, with Kiptoo, Mwaga and Bernard Rotich fighting neck-to-neck.

Kibet failed to respond and appeared content with the third group which he led. Ngatunyi won in 35 minutes, 57.1 seconds, followed by Kiptoo in 36:17.0 and Mwaga in 36:39.5.

"These spikes really hurt me as I was fitting them for the first time," said Ngatunyi. "Otherwise I am in good shape and hoping for a better season than last year. I will certainly be on the team to Edinburgh and I can assure Bekele and Tedesse that they must prepare well to beat me."

Muyanga given the spotlight - Women's contest

In the absence of Ndereba and Masai, the race was left to schoolgirls from Machakos schools who swept the top podium positions. Ndereba was the bridesmaid at the wedding of Gladys Asiba, while Masai is nursing a knee injury and will be out for two weeks.

Muyanga, a form two student at Kwanthanze Secondary, who won silver medal in 2000m Steeplechase at the World Youth Championships in Ostrava last year, won in 27:38.25 and Pauline Mutwa, a form three student at Baptist Secondary, was second in 27:42.0 while Muyanga's schoolmate and form mate, Mbuthye Kimanzi was third in 27:52.6.

The three ran alone for a better part of the race, relegating Japan-based Everlyne Kimwei to fourth position in 27:58.4. Jane Mwikali, the top athlete working for Kenya Prisons was fifth in 28:13.5.

Masai, Wangare cruise - Police Champs

Moses Masai ran with the leading group until the four kilometre mark when he took off and he never looked back, dashing to victory in 39:10. He was followed by 20-year-old Sammy Kitwara, whose sensational emergence this season has caught the imagination of the athletics fraternity here.

Kitwara is a Jackpot candidate, having won three races, before the provincial circuit was rudely cut short by political violence that followed the disputed December 27 Presidential poll. He has to win at the National Championships on March 1 to win the Jackpot.

Omulo Okoth for the IAAF

Kenyan Prison Championships -
Leading results:

MEN (12 km):
 1. Gideon Ngatunyi 35:57.1
 2. Timothy Kiptoo 36:17.0
 3. Patrick Mwaga 36:39.5
 4. Bernard Rotich 36:47.6
 5. Jonathan Muga 36:54.3
 6. Luke Kibet 37:06.0
 7. Elijah Chelimo 37:08.1
 8. Birech Joseph 37:15.6
 9. Jackson Gekario 37:16.7
10. John Mwangangi 37:24.1

WOMEN (8 km):
 1. Christine Kambua Muyanga 27:38.25
 2. Pauline Mutwa 27:42.0
 3. Mbuthye KImanzi 27:52.6
 4. Everlyne Kimwei 27:58.4
 5. Jane Mwikali 28:13.5
 6. Mumbua Kioko 28:17.3
 7. Caroline Kwambai 28:47.2
 8. Katunge Mutune 28:54.1
 9. Catherine Kirui 29:08.0
10. Magdalene Syombua 29:21.6

Kenyan Police Championships -
Leading results:

MEN (12 km):
 1. Moses Masai 39:10
 2. Sammy Kitwara 39:51
 3. Sammy Macharia 40:06
 4. Richard Matelong 40:13
 5. Bernard Sang 40:14
 6. Silas Kipruto 40:15
 7. Charles Sigei 40:27
 8. Kipyego Kirui 40:33
 9. Julius Maritim 40:39
10. Paul Meli 40:43

WOMEN (8 km):
 1. Margaret Wangare 29:52
 2. Linet Masai 30:15
 3. Hellen Nzembi 30:28
 4. Beatrice Chepchumba 30:35
 5. Joyce Wanjiku 30:56
 6. Irene Chelagat 30:57
 7. Florence Chepchumba 31:10
 8. Edna Kwamboka 31:13
 9. Pamela Chelimo 31:31
10. Milka Cherotich 31:49