Nairobi, KenyaIn a battle between youth and experience, the latter came out tops at the Kenyan trials for the 37th IAAF World Cross Country Championships with Moses Mosop winning the senior men’s 12-kilometre race and Florence Kiplagat prevailing in the women’s eight-kilometre competition at the Ngong Race Course in Nairobi Saturday.
The championships were also an IAAF Cross Country Permit Meeting and were graced by African Athletics Confederation president, Malboum Kalkaba.
As expected, there was no trace of the 27-strong foreign entries with Kenyan runners dominating the competition held under a clear sky and temperatures of about 24 degrees centigrade, with the biggest upset of the dramatic morning being that of Eliud Kipchoge dropping out of the competition with injury.
Other big names that fell by the wayside included Olympic 5000m bronze medalist Edwin Soi and world 3000m Steeplechase record holder Saif Saaeed Shaheen who led the Qatari legion at the championships.
In the junior races, Mercy Cherono forced Kenyan head coach Julius Kirwa to eat humble pie when she won the six-kilometre race in 21 minutes and 44.2 seconds with John Kemboi upsetting the formbook to win the junior men’s eight-kilometre race in 25:22.9.
Mosop signals solid return
The biggest talking point was the return of 2007 silver medalist at the 35th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Moses Mosop, who seems to have benefited from a major overhaul after nursing a nagging ankle injury for a long while.
Nicknamed “Big Engine” by his legion of fans, Mosop ran a cautious race, staying in the lead pack as Olympic 1500 metres silver medalist, Asbel Kiprop, did most of the front running as he has done in most of the season.
Kiprop tookcharge in the first four kilometers before fading out at the five-kilometre mark, leaving the group of World Junior Championships 5000m silver medalist, Mathew Kisorio, Mosop, World Military Games 10,000m champion Mark Kiptoo, silver medalist in Edinburgh last year, Leonard Komon, Mangata Ndiwa and William Chebon, calling the shots.
Mosop took the initiative with two kilometres to go with his trademark finishing kick that saw him shake off Kisorio with 1000m left, opening up a 100-metre gap and winning the blue ribbon race in 38:16.0, 11 seconds ahead of second placed Kisorio who led a galaxy of junior stars that have graduated to the senior ranks.
Kiptoo came in third in 38:39.2 with Linus Chumba finishing strong to grab the fourth automatic place in Kenya’s team to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman, clocking 38:47.7.
“I’m happy with my form since I came back from the championship in Seville,” a jubilant Mosop said.” My injury is now history and now I have to focus on the Amman championship. My silver in Mombasa (2007) was rather disappointing but now I have a chance to make things right.”
Kisorio, who led the fledgling group of juniors, was not overawed by the big stage that attracted an impressive crowd of about 5000 at the Ngong Race Course, home of Kenya’s horse racing competitions.
“My tactic was to wear down the opposition with a fast pace, but Mosop read the script well and in the end, his finishing kick held him in good stead,” said Kisorio, a student at Kosirai High School in the Rift Valley and son of one time bronze medalist at the World Cross Country Championships, Some Muge.
Kiplagat teaches young challengers a lesson
The women’s race also had its intrigues with an expected challenge from fresh faced junior stars fizzling out and experience carrying the day.
Running for the Kenya Police, Florence Kiplagat made sure the force retained the title won last year by Grace Momanyi by summoning her wealth of experience to win the race in 28:31.4.
After the gun, Linet Chepkurui was first off and after two kilometres, she held the lead in a pack that had Pauline Korikwiang, Juliet Tenga, defending champion Momanyi, Margaret Wangari, Florence Kiplagat and Pauline Njeri.
Tenga dropped out with two kilometres to go with Anne Karindi joining the lead pack and Chepkurui taking the initiative, Kiplagat, Masai and Chenonge in tow.
Pre-race favorite Korikwiang and Wangari started to struggle with Korikwiang clutching her stomach with a stitch.
Chenonge, Kiplagat, Chepkurui and Masai stuck together until the final 500 metres with Kiplagat surging ahead followed by Chenonge.
Kiplagat summoned all her reserves and it was hardly surprising when she collapsed after crossing the finish line.
The champion said this was her first major race this season but remained confident of a podium place in Amman.
“The team now needs to plan well and co-ordinate well to win in Amman,” she said.
Masai, bronze medallist in Edinburgh last year, was happy with her race. “I took it easy after seeing that I was among the top four and I was assured of a place in the team that’s why I didn’t sprint for victory,” the cautious Masai said.
Masai’s prayers were answer after her close friend, Korikwiang, who finished 14th due to stomach cramps, was drafted into the team by wild card selection.
Cherono and Kemboi take junior crowns
Mercy Cherono, written out by head coach Julius Kirwa after running in too many races this season, had the last laugh when she won the junior women’s eight-kilometre race in 21:44.2 in a gun-to-tape performance.
The junior men’s race saw Commonwealth Youth Games 5,000m bronze medallist Japhet Korir come in third behind race winner John Kemboi and second placed Paul Tanui.
The first four athletes across the line earned automatic entry into Kenya’s team to the 37th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman on March 20 with Athletics Kenya selectors picking the other two by a wild card system.
Elias Makori for IAAF
Leading Results -
Senior MEN (12 km) -
1. Moses Mosop 38:16.0
2. Mathew Kisorio 38:37.2
3. Mark Kiptoo 38:39.2
4. Linus Chumba 38:47.7
5. William Chebon 38:49.2
6. Mangata Ndiwa 38:52.2
7. Sammy Kitwara 38:52.6
8. Abraham Chebii 38:59.5
9. Silas Sang 39:01.5
10. Geoffrey Mutai 39:02.8.
Senior WOMEN (8 km) –
1. Florence Kiplagat 28:31.4
2. Iness Chenonge 28:31.8
3. Linet Masai 28:47.0
4. Linet Chepkurui 28:56.1
5. Ann Karindi 29:01.3
6. Pasalia Chepkorir 29:15.9
7. Jelia Tinega 29:24.8
8. Sylvia Kibet 29:40.3
9. Margaret Wangari 29:44.2
10. Peninah Arusei 29:46.4.
Junior MEN (8 km) –
1. John Kemboi 25:22.9
2. Paul Tanui 25:23.6
3. Japhet Korir 25:25.9
4. John Chepkwony 25:28.3
5. Titus Mbishei 25:29.5
6. Charles Bett Chepkurui 25:35.1
7. Peter Kimeli 25:40.3
8. Moses Kibet 25:42.2
9. Simon Cheprot 25:47.4
10. Paul Mutero 25:48.2.
Junior WOMEN (6 km) –
1. Mercy Cherono 21:44.2
2. Hilda Chepkemoi 21:57.4
3. Jackline Chepngeno 21:58.8
4. Jackline Chebii 22:04.9
5. Faith Chepngetich 22:17.7
6. Nelly Chebet 22:18.4
7. Judith Chepkoech 22:32.9
8. Valentine Kipketer 22:39.0
9. Grace Mbuthye Kimanzi 22:40.0
10. Esther Chemutai 22:42.4.
Kenyan team for Amman:
Senior MEN - Moses Mosop, Mathew Kisorio, Mark Kiptoo, Linus Chumba, Mangata Ndiwa, Leonard Komon
Junior MEN - John Kemboi, Paul Tanui, Japhet Korir, John Chepkwony, Titus Mbishei, Charles Bett Chepkurui
Senior WOMEN - Florence Kiplagat, Iness Chenonge, Linet Masai, Linet Chepkurui, Ann Karindi, Pauline Korikwiang
Junior WOMEN - Mercy Cherono, Hilda Chepkemoi, Jackline Chepngeno, Jackline Chebii, Faith Chepngetich, Nelly Chebet