Former World 10,000m champion Charles Kamathi found the going tough as he finished third behind Richard Matelong and Moses Masai at the Kenya Police Cross-Country Championships on Saturday (27), while Sylvia Kibet took top honours in the women's race.
Matelong, a former African 3000m Steeplechase silver medallist, just managed to shake off the strong challenge of Masai to win the men's 12km at Ngong Race Course.
Aggressive run reaps dividends for Matelong - Men's Race
Masai set the early pace in the race, which attracted close to 250 runners. But his bid to open the gap after the first lap was curtailed by Matelong who was breathing down his neck. The two ran together during the second lap with the second pack comprising Kamathi, Nicholas Kamecha, Julius Nyamu and Charles Sigei trailing some 30 metres behind.
Matelong and Masai widened the gap with every lap and by the fifth had created a gap of 70 metres. They kept the fair sized crowd guessing until the final 200 metres when Matelong made his attack and was found to have the better finish, with Kamathi finishing a distant third.
“This is my first time in cross country and I am happy that I won,” Matelong said. He added that the victory was an inspiration to aim higher — in this case the 35th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa.
“I have trained well and I hope to make the team to the global Championships. I am well aware that the trials will be tough but I guess I am up to the challenge and determined to make the team."
Masai, who missed last year’s World Cross Country Championships due to an appendix problem, said he may skip the nationals.
“If I will not be back to full strength in the next two weeks I will skip the nationals in Mombasa on 10 February and take part in the trials on 24 February,” he added.
Kamathi, who has lately been based in Japan, said he has been nursing an injury and has yet to recover fully. All the same, he said he was entirely focused on the Mombasa event. “I am happy with my position and my mind is now on Mombasa. But first I have to make the team. Gauging from my performance, I hope to make the final six,” he added.
Masai, a double African junior champion, reached the finish in 38:49. The little-known Kamecha took fourth ahead of Nyamu and Sigei.
Little difficulty for confident Kibet - Women's race
Slyvia Kibet took advantage of Olympic 5000m silver medallist Isabella Ochichi’s absence to reign supreme. Kibet out-sprinted Japan-based Evelyn Kimwei to win the event in 30:13.
Kimwei took second place in 30:25 while Monica Njeri was third in 30:32.
Helen Cherono and Florence Chepkoge took the fourth and fifth places respectively. International runner Edna Kiplagat could not keep up with the pace, finishing sixth in 30:46.
“After running with Kimwei to the last 7Km, I knew I would beat her in the sprint,” said Kibet.
Kimwei was the fastest women's junior 10,000m runner in the world last year with a time of 31:16.50.
Omulo Okoth (The Standard) for IAAF
LEADING RESULTS -
Men - 12km:
1. Richard Matelong 38:49
2. Moses Masai 38:49 (same time as 1st)
3. Charles Kamathi 39:33
4. Nicholas Kamecha 39:25
5. Julius Nyamu 39:30
6. Charles Sigei 39:33
7. Lawrence Kiprotich 39:39
8. Alex Macharia 39:40
9. Wilson Kipsang 39:45
10. Jacob Yator 39:48
Women - 8km:
1. Sylvia Kibet 30:13
2. Evelyn Kimwei 30:25
3. Monica Njeri 30:32
4. Helen Cherono 30:42
5. Florence Chepkogei 30:43
6. Edna Kiplagat 30:46
7. Faith Kimutai 30:57
8. Consolata Chemutai 31:20
9. Emma Muthoni 31:27
10. Pauline Njeri 31:39