Pauline Korikwiang (red vested, far left of the front trio) running the 8km XC in Machakos, Kenya (Elias Makori) © Copyright
General News Machakos, Kenya

Korikwiang and Kamakya steal limelight in Machakos – AK XC Series, Meet 1

Kenya’s long journey to the 37th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan (28 March) started on a high note in the Eastern Kenya town of Machakos on Saturday (8) with former World junior champion Pauline Korikwiang showing impressive form by winning the women’s eight-kilometre race.

And fast-rising policeman, Nicholas Kamakya, blew apart the opposition on his home course with first timer Fridah Kaimuri taking the junior women’s title and Patrick Mwaka the junior men’s honours.

The opening meeting of the six-round Athletics Kenya national cross-country championships series was held against the backdrop of a strong directive by Athletics Kenya that for athletes to be considered for selection to the Kenyan team to Jordan next March - or to top cross country races outside Kenya - they must compete in at least four of the six national cross country meetings.

A light drizzle, muddy course and relatively weak field at the Machakos High School failed to dampen Korikwiang’s resolve as she broke away from the pack with three of four laps to go on the two-kilometre course.

“The mud on the course made it quite difficult but I’ve run in similar conditions before and so I knew what to expect,” Korikwiang, the 2006 World junior champion in Fukuoka, said.

Her training partner and schoolmate in Nairobi, Crisentia Cheruto, arrived late for the juniors’ race, registered for the seniors’ competition and finished a brilliant third despite running with spikes for the first time.

Korikwiang’s winning time was 28:11.04, while Cheruto clocked 28:40.08 and second placed Pascalia Chepkurui – winner of last month’s 21km race at the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon – coming in second, seven seconds behind the winner.

Korikwiang has had a lukewarm last two seasons since winning the juniors’ race in Fukuoka but says she has now adjusted since changing location from Eldoret to Nairobi.

“I have settled down both in school and in training and if all goes according to plan, no doubt I will be on the podium in Amman,” the 20-year-old Korikwiang, whose loss of form saw her miss out of a place in Kenya’s 5000m team to the Beijing Olympics, said.

Kamakya has an easier time, weighing his opposition in the opening lap before breaking away and opening up a 100-metre gap in the second lap to win the 12km race in 37:33 with the runner-up Joel Kimary coming in half a minute later.

“Since it was the first race of the season, I knew the big boys would not show up and so I took the opening lap to weigh the opposition. I then decided to break away and when I saw nobody responding, I knew the race was done and dusted and so I just kept the momentum to the finish,” said the police constable.

He will face stronger opposition when the series moves to Kericho in the Rift Valley next Saturday (15) as Kenya’s leading runners are expected to react to Athletics Kenya’s directive and travel to Kericho in droves.

“To maintain Kenya’s good results abroad, even athletes invited for top cross country races abroad will have to observe the rule of competing in at least four races of the national cross country series,” Athletics Kenya’s secretary general, David Okeyo, said in Machakos.

“We are doing this to make sure that only athletes with proven form in Kenya will be released for competitions abroad. We need this discipline if our ambition to win all the individual titles in Jordan next March is to be fulfilled. We don’t want to spoil Kenya’s name by having athletes who end up being lapped…”

The opening meet’s field impressed national head coach, Julius Kirwa. “The turnout was impressive, considering it was the first meet, and the course was great too,” he said. We expect a stiff battle in the race to the World Cross Country Championships in Jordan.”

Elias Makori for the IAAF

Leading results:

Men’s Junior 8km:
1. Patrick Mwaka 23:53.03
2. Nzau Mwangangi 24:27.08
3. Paul Tanui 24:35.03
4. Kiprono Suter 24:44.00
5. Wilfred Murgor 24:46.7
6. Nelson Kipchoge 24:49.00
7. Amos Kiptoon 24:52.04
8. Robert Langat 24:59.07
9. Nixon Kipkemoi 25:02.07
10. John Kariuki 25:10.01

Men’s 12km:
1. Nicholas Kamakya 37:33.00
2. Joel Kimary 38:06.00
3. Daniel Cheruiyot 38:09.06
4. Suleiman Simatwa 38:13.00
5. Kiprotich Yegon 38:23.04
6. Stephen Arita 38:24.00
7. Dennis Ndisu 38:24.08
8. Joel Meli 38:31.01
9. John Kirui 38:40.08
10. Philip Koech 38:44.05

Women’s 8km:
1. Pauline Korikwiang 28:11.04
2. Pascalia Chepkirui 28:17.02
3. Crisentia Cheruto 28:40.08
4. Milkah Chemos 28:46.04
5. Lucia Muia 28:51.02
6. Nzembi Musyoka 28:56.00
7. Mary Wacera 29:02.07
8. Seddy Chelagat 29:03.02
9. Mathew Mutuku 29:05.00
10. Agnes Katunge 29:25.01

Women’s Junior 6km:
1. Fridah Kaimuri 21:12.06
2. Vaati Ndolo 21:17.05
3. Virginia Nyambura 21:19.05
4. Nundu Mbatha 21:34.06
5. Fridah Mwikali 21:43.02
6. Susan Wairimu 21:59.01
7. Wamua Mwangangi 22:05.06
8. Jackline Nzivo 22:11.04
9. Maureen Mutindi 22:13.06
10. Mutave Musau 22:14.02