Nairobi, Kenya - Timothy Kiptoo successfully defending his men’s crown at the Athletics Kenya Prisons Cross Country Championships as Eunice Kioko emerged as the surprise women’s winner on Saturday (26).
Despite temperatures reaching 26C and sunny conditions, it was still very muddy underfoot at Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens, but nothing was going to stop Kiptoo on the 12km course.
Fredrick Musyoki, second behind Kiptoo 12 months, pushed the pace and lead the way between the six and eight kilometres.
However, not far behind was Kiptoo, 2011 IAAF World Championships 1500m silver medallist Silas Kiplagat and the 2011 Africa cross country champion John Mwangangi.
After the lap-scorer indicated two to go, Kiptoo overtook Musyoki and then pulled away, running the final four kilometres on his own. y the tape, the winner enjoyed a 60 metres advantage before crossing the line in 37:18.
“Last year I won (the domestic series) jackpot and Prisons before making the team for the Africa Cross in South Africa. Later, I went to Africa Championships and won bronze (in the 5000m).
“That made me proud and want more this year, I have mastered this course for the last three years and my aim is to maintain my shape to get to the World Cross,” said Kiptoo.
“The mud and water was a challenge but I have been training for such conditions and I hope the same conditions are there when we return here for the nationals,” he added.
Musyoki repeated his runners-up spot from last year, finishing in 37:37. Mwangangi eventually slipped back to eighth with Kiplagat, the Prisons cross country champion three seasons ago, easing off on the final two laps and coming home in 11th place.
“I decided not to push for it since I was added to the Moscow (IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting on 3 February) indoor race only two days ago. It will be the first of two indoor events I want to run before returning home to train for the outdoor season,” commented Kiplagat, who finished a disappointing seventh in the London 2012 Olympic Games 1500m final.
Olympic 5000m bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa was expected to start but decided at the last minute to sit this one out with a tight leg muscle.
“I’m saving myself for the Nationals (on 16 February) where I want to test my form against the best. Making the Kenyan team is difficult and today, I decided not to risk further injury,” said Longosiwa.
Kioko, 28, who was sixth in this event last year when running under her maiden name Kales, decided before the race that the conditions didn't merit running in spikes and she ran barefoot. She broke away from her rivals in the last two kilometres of the 8km race to win in 28:31.
Mutwiri Mutuota (Capital FM) for the IAAF
1. Timothy Kiptoo 37:18
2. Fredrick Musyoki 37:37
3. Julius Kogo 37:47
4. Simon Cheprop 38:03
5. Phelimon Cheboi 38:07
6. Charles Cheruiyot 38:07
1. Eunice Kioko 28:31
2. Pauline Kanyeke 28:37
3. Cynthia Chepkorir Limo 28:41
4. Susan Lekapana 28:50
5. Priscilla Lorchirma 28:50
6. Diana Chepkemoi 29:13