Olympic 5000m bronze medallist Edwin Soi survived a fierce challenge to retain his senior men’s 12km title at the second meeting of Athletics Kenya national cross country series which was run in atrocious weather conditions on a rainy Kericho course in the Rift Valley on Saturday (15).
Soi pulled out all the stops, including surviving a penalty from organisers after shedding off his singlet, to complete the race bare-chested in 34:33.6 winning in a sprint finish from second placed Patrick Langat (34:36.9) and Timothy Kiptoo who came in third in 34:38.1.
Meanwhile, speed training in Kapsabet with Olympic 800 metres champion Pamela Jelimo proved beneficial to Pascalia Chepkorir who ran away with the senior women’s 8km title in 26:17.1.
Chepkorir, running for the Kenya Police team, exchanged the lead with Carolyne Chepkwony, winner of the three-leg Kisii 10km road race series in western Kenya last week, under pounding rain before the winner broke off in the final 100 metres of the final two-kilometre lap on the wet course.
“It was a slow race and I was wary of Carolyne’s form but thanks to the speed training I have been doing in Kapsabet with (Pamela) Jelimo, I was confident I would make it in the sprint finish,” Chepkorir said.
Chepkwony’s time was 26:19.7, while Kenya Prison’s Jane Mwikali came in third third with a time of 27:02.3.
Soi’s victory in the field of 152 runners was particularly significant as he’s just returned from a two week, post-season break.
“I wasn’t quite sure I could win the race due to my two-week break after the last season,” Soi, winner here last year, said. “But at the end of the day it came down to my experience.”
Cherono looks good for Amman
Running on her home course, World Junior 3000m champion, Mercy Cherono, was unchallenged in winning the 6km junior women’s race in 19.29.0 with Japhet Korir (22:18.4) taking the junior men’s title.
Cherono took full advantage of the absence of Fridah Kaimuri, winner of the opening junior race of the series, to cruise to victory under a steady downpour and remains among the favourites for the junior women’s race at the 37th IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Amman, Jordan (28 March).
“I was not strong enough to run faster. This is because I finished my examination on Thursday (13) and only had yesterday to train seriously,” said Cherono, a Form One student at the Saseta Secondary School in Bureti district of Kenya’s Rift Valley.
None of the top finishers at the opening meet of the season in Machakos, eastern Kenya, on 8 November featured in the hotly contested Kericho meet that drew a total of 480 runners.
Nicholas Kamakya and Pauline Korikwiang, winners of the senior races in Machakos - both failed to make the trip to Kericho, about 300 kilometres west of Nairobi.
The next race of the six-meet series will be held in Embu on 29 November.
Elias Makori for the IAAF
6km Junior women: 1. Mercy Cherono 19:29.0, 2. Judith Chepkoech 19:33.9, 3. Caroline Chepngetich 20:01.5, 4. Stella Chebet 20:09.4, 5. Faith Chepngetich 20:15.2, 6. Purity Cherotich 20:21.3. 7. Jesca Chepngeno 20:22.3, 8. Frida Chemutai 20:34.3, 9. Fridah Chemutai 20:45.8, 10. Risper Chebet 20:50.0;
8km junior men: 1. Japhet Korir 22:18.4, 2. Philip Langat 22:51.2, 3. Wesley Koech 22:52.8, 4. John Mwangagi 22:53.2, 5. Micheal Mutai 22:53.4, 6. Hillary Langat 23:01.4, 7.Eric Langat 22:05.5, 8. Fredric Musyoki 23:07.1, 9. Paul Tonui 23:07.09, 10. Sammy Maritim 23:11.9;
8km senior women: 1. Pascalia Chepkorir 26:17.1, 2. Carolyne Chepkwony 26:19.7, 3.27:02. 3. Jane Mwikali 4. Jacklyne Nyangeri 27:21.5. Anne Wanjiru 27:29.9, 6. Agnes Katunge 27:50.2, 7. Irine Mongare 28:32.9, 8. Joyce Kirui 28:39.5, 9. Carolyne Chepkorir 29:03.2, 10. Yucabeth Chelangat 29:12.8;
12km senior men:1. Edwin Soi 34:33.6, 2. Patrick Langat 34:36.9, 3. Timothy Kiptoo 34:38.1, 4. Albert Kitur 34:48.3, 5. Paul Koech 34:53.6, 6. Daniel Kipkoech 34:59.9, 7. Philip Koech 35:07.9, 8. Cheruiyot Kirui 35:08.9, 9. Edwin Mosonik 35:09.4, 10. Jackson Kitur 35:11.0.