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Koech wins the Kenyan Armed Forces cross country title

Koech wins the Kenyan Armed Forces cross country title
Peter Njenga for the IAAF
2 February 2002 – Nairobi, Kenya - Former world half-marathon champion Paul Koech won the 21st Kenya Armed Forces Cross Country senior men’s title today to the surprise of everyone including himself.

Until Friday Koech was undecided on whether to compete as he was not fully prepared after a two-year lay-off due to injury. But teammates from his Kahawa Garrison convinced him and yesterday he won easily with four seconds to spare over Tom Nyariki.

Koech’s performance was a sterling comeback giving him his fifth Armed Forces title in six years after clocking 36 minutes 27 seconds in this meeting held at a race course outside the capital Nairobi.  ”I am not fully recovered yet. I have not trained to the level where I can say I am in shape but I hope to do so before the world cross country championships,” he said after the race ran at 11.00 am local time under temperatures of 25 degrees centigrade.

Koech who was the 1997 and 99 Kenyan champion was sixth in the IAAF world cross country championships in Vilamoura in 2000. Thereafter he suffered injuries to his left foot.

Nyariki, third in the 1997 world championships, clocked 36:31 while Kiptum Muigei, ranked second to Paul Tergat locally by 1994 until a spate of injuries barred him from ever realising his full potentials , followed in third in 36:37.

The 12 km race had a class entry of only 58 athletes after the rest were pruned in inter unit meetings, compared to previous years when as many as 200 used to compete .

But the gap between the top runners and the rest was too big for the liking of national head coach Mike Kosgei and he was still working out how he will bridge it.

Stephen Rerimoi who had starred in the KAAA weekend cross country meetings this season was placed fourth in 36:52. Patrick Ivuti could not compete after failing a physical.

Sammy Kipketer won the 4km race in 11:50, 100 metres ahead of his closest challenger Julius Nderitu, who finished in 12:04. Kipketer, winner of the 11th Chepkoilel Campus Cross Country in the Rift Valley hinterland city of Eldoret late last year, said he was confident of reaching the world championships in Dublin next month.

The women’s events were not held due to insufficient entries. 

Leading results:
12km: 1. Paul Koech (Kahawa) 36:27; 2. Tom Nyariki (Isiolo) 36:31; 3. Kiptum Muigei (Kahawa) 36:37; 4. Stephen Rerimoi (Gilgil) 36:52; 5. John Korir (Gilgil 36:57; 6. Joseph Kanda (Thika) 37:17; 7. James Koskei (Lanet) 37:19; 8. Sammy Rono (Isiolo)  37:21; 9. Benjamin Limo (Thika)  37:23; 10. Josphat Siocha (LAB) 37:25; 11. Paul Koskei (Thika) 37:29; 12. John Kipngeno (Isiolo) 37:31; 13. Wilson Boit (MAB) 37:34; 14.  Harun Toroitich (MAB) 37:36; 15. Dominic Kirui (Nanyuki) 37:42; 16. Andrew Mudogo (Kahawa) 37:47; 17. John Koskei (Nanyuki) 37:53; 18. Wilson Onsare (Kenya Navy); 19. John Kipsang (Gilgil) 37:57; 20. Mark Koskei (Gilgil) 38:04.

Men 4km: 1. Sammy Kipketer, 11:50; 2. Julius Nderitu, 12:04; 3. Richard Ngeemi, 12:14; 4. David Kiplak, 12:18; 5. Masai Kwemoi, 12:20; 6. John Lagat, 12:21; 7. Clement Kiprop, 12:24; 8. Gabriel Kiprono, 12:25; 9.  Jonathan Kandie, 12:20; 10. Thomas Lotik, 12:27.