Women’s 8km senior victor and home runner Phanincier Jemutai was the biggest winner when the 4th KCB/AK National Cross Country Series panned out at the high elevation of Mount Elgon on Saturday (26) as Timothy Kiptoo finally tasted victory in the senior men’s long race.
Newcomer Leonard Barsoton and Alice Aprot, niece of 2010 World Cross Country champion Joseph Ebuya who was ninth in the junior race at the Amman World Cross, won the men 8km and women 6km junior titles.
Kapsakwony, the headquarters of Mount Eldon that is the oldest and largest solitary volcano in East Africa that boasts an elevation of 4321m above sea level, was the setting for the fourth round of the seven meet series where athletes had to do with a punishing course.
Heavy rains that have pounded the country turned the route into a muddy affair that Cross Country purists would have been proud off but there was no shortage of action when the starting gun went off on a meet that pooled approximately 400 entries.
Jemutai on a roll
Having Moses Masai, the figurehead of the Masai trilogy in athletics that boasts of 2009 World 10,000m champion and thrice World Cross senior silver winner, Linet as a sister and the World 10,000m junior gold medallist, Dennis at the tail as a coach, is paying off handsomely for Phanincier Jemutai.
The winning tonic seems to be rubbing off for the upstart who broadcast her arrival on the Kenyan distance running map with a polished victory in the second meet of the series in Eldoret (Chepkoilel) on 12 November.
Running on terrain she is familiar with, Jemutai edged her nose ahead in the race for a share of the Sh1.2m ($14,000) series jackpot when she outclassed the World Youth 3000m titleholder, Purity Cherotich Rionoripo, in the senior women 8km race.
The pair were running side by side until the bell when the novice shifted through the gears in the last 2km to break the tape in 29:30.1 with Cherotich coming through to finish second in 30:49.5.
Cherotich, who was decorated with silver at the Bydgoszcz World Cross junior women 6km, is still a form three student in Kericho and was making her senior debut in Cross Country running.
Another fresh face, Elizabeth Chemutai finished in 31:10.1 ahead of Kissi runner, Monica Otwori who won the 10,000m race at her home turf at last season’s Track and Field series who posted 31:22.5.
With her second victory at the discipline, Jemutai is on pole to bag the Sh400,000 ($4,500) series jackpot in the senior women 8km race that failed to produce an outright winner in the 2010/2011 season.
Former World junior 3000 and 5000m champion, Beatrice Chepchumba, the winner of the San Sebastian and Malaga half marathons this year, ran 31:25.0 for sixth.
Kiptoo finally rises to glory
A new winner was on the cards in the senior men 12km with 3000m/5000m World youth record holder, Isaiah Kiplangat Koech (Embu) and Nicholas Togom (Tala and Chepkoilel), the junior bronze winner at the Africa Cross who have taken the last three meets absent in Kapsakwony.
Mount Elgon bred Titus Mbishei, the 2008 World Juniors and 2009 World Cross junior men silver winner was the crowd and pre-race favourite at the start of the long race.
But Timothy Kiptoo who was the bridesmaid in Chepkoilel behind Togom had other ideas.
The runner who has returned career bests on the road this season, 27:45 over 10km (second Utrecht) and 1:02:40 in Half Marathon (winner 28th Unive Drenthe Marathon) opened a 200m gap midway and never looked back.
Kiptoo arrived at the tape in 38:38.6 in the slow course as Mbishei accepted the bridesmaid’s position in 39:11.9, his experience shielding him from the attentions of third place Abraham Tanui (39:24.5) as Stephen Arita (39:32.5) finished fourth.
Barsoton and Aprot top junior runs
Barsoton (25:58.1), also from Mount Elgon dominated the men’s junior 8km race, finding the legs to motor away from the hard chasing Justine Cheruiyot (25:22.1), Gilbert Kirui (25:36.3), Isaac Lagat (25:50.1) and Robert Chemosian (25:53.1) who closed the top five in the dash for victory.
The winner added his name in the mostly contested race for the series where 2010 World Cross junior silver winner, Japheth Korir and World Youth 3000m titleholder William Malel are fronting.
Korir and Malel were advised by national head coach, Julius Kirwa after Embu last weekend, to skip at least two meetings meaning the tussle for the Sh400,000 ($4,500) pay-out will be likely decided at the latter rounds or the nationals themselves.
In the corresponding women’s junior 6km race, the field lacked any real quality and for Aprot, who finished fifth at the Africa World Cross in Johannesburg, the easy motions of becoming the fourth separate winner of the event were duly achieved in 21:56.1.
Sheila Chepng’etich, the sixth placer (1500m) at the Lille World Youth was the only other entrant in the race bearing international experience but the punishing course did her no favours as she contented with fourth (22:29.1).
Magdaline Masai (22:12.3) and Eva Cherono (22:16.9) who placed ninth sixth at Chepkoilel finished in that order to fill the podium.
Mutwiri Mutuota (Capital FM) and Joseph Ngure (The Standard) for IAAF
Senior men- 1. Timothy Kiptoo 38:38.6, 2. Titus Mbishei 39:11.9, 3. Abraham Tanui 39:24.5, 4. Stephen Arita 39:32.5, 5. Eliud Kemei 39:34.8, 6. Kennedy Kiptoo 39:40.8.
Women 8Km - 1. Phanancier Jemutai 29:30.1, 2. Purity Cherotich 30:49.5, 3. Elizabeth Chemutai 31: 10.1, 4. Monica Otwori 31:22.5. 5. Tabitha Chelagat 31:23.6, 6. Beatrice Chepchumba 31:25.0.
Junior Men: 1. Leonard Barsoton 25:16.7, 2. Justine Cheruiyot 25:22.1, 3. Gilbert Kirui 25:36.3, 4. Isaac Lagat 25:50.1, 5. Robert Chemosian 25:53.1, 6. Justine Kipchumba 25:58.1.
Women. 1. Alice Aprot 21:56.1, 2. Magdaline Masai 22:12.3, 3. Ever Cherono 22:16.9, 4. Sheila Chepng’etich 22:29.1, 5. Jackline Chebwogen 22:42.5, 6. Caroline Chepkemoi 22:53.0.