Geoffrey Kamworor (273) in cross-country action (AFP / Getty Images) © Copyright
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Cross-country round-up: Kamworor, Obiri and Chespol among the winners in Kenya

On a busy weekend of cross-country action for Kenya’s leading distance runners, Geoffrey Kamworor showed he is rounding into shape ahead of his title defence at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Aarhus 2019.

Kamworor was making his first cross-country outing of the year at the Kenya Police Service Cross Country Championships at Ngong Race Course in Nairobi on Saturday (26). Instead of front-running his way to victory as he has done in the past, the two-time world cross-country champion bided his time and ran in the lead pack of four alongside Josphat Boit, Isaac Kwemoi and Mathew Kisorio.

Just Kamworor and Boit remained at the front on the last lap of the 10km race but Kamworor began to edge ahead in the final kilometre before going on to win in 29:37. Boit was a distant second, crossing the line 17 seconds later, while Kwemoi was third in 29:59.

African cross-country silver medallist Margaret Chelimo was an even more emphatic winner in the women’s race. The Commonwealth 5000m silver medallist covered the 10km course in 33:10 to finish 34 seconds ahead of 2015 world steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng. Pascalia Jepkorir was third in 33:56.

About 35 kilometres north-east of Ngong Race Course, Kahawa Garrison played host to the Kenya Defence Forces Cross Country Championships on Friday (25), attracting a similarly high-quality line-up.

World 5000m champion Hellen Obiri successfully defended her title in the senior women’s 10km event. She had opened up a significant lead just two laps into the race before going on to win in 32:20. Irene Kimais took second place in 33:02 from Deborah Sum (33:35).

The men’s 10km race was much closer and was only decided in the final metres. Kibiwot Kandie held off a strong challenge from 2015 world U18 1500m bronze medallist Lawi Kosgei Komen and 2013 world U18 3000m silver medallist Vedic Cheruiyot to win in 28:56. Komen clocked 29:02 with Cheruiyot taking third place in 29:04.

Two-time world U20 steeplechase champion Celliphine Chespol was the standout performer at the Kenya Prisons Cross Country Championships in Ruiru on Saturday (25).

Chespol, one of the IAAF’s Gen 10 stars for 2019, was tucked in behind world cross-country silver medallist Alice Aprot for the first three laps of the 10km race. The African cross-country champion then forged ahead of Aprot on the final lap to win in 33:15.

Aprot, who has won this title for the past three years, finished second in 33:32 with Loise Chemunung taking third place in 34:22.

After a two-year hiatus, 2016 African cross-country bronze medallist Charles Muneria returned to form to win the senior men’s 10km.

Muneria, who represented Kenya in the 5000m at the 2016 Olympics, pulled away on the third lap and went on to win in 29:13.

Joshua Nakeri was a distant second in 29:53, holding off Emmanuel Ngatuny by just one second. 2011 world 1500m silver medallist Silas Kiplagat was fourth in 30:16.

The Kenyan Cross Country Championships, which doubles as the country’s selection event for the World Cross, will be held in Eldoret on 23 February.

Rhonex Kipruto and Brilliant Jepkorir captured convincing victories at the 28th Discovery Kenya Cross Country meeting in Eldoret on Sunday (27).

Pulling away to secure the victory in the final kilometre, Kipruto, the world U20 10,000m champion, covered the 10km course in 30:40.3, more than six seconds clear of Edward Zakayo, the world U20 champion at 5000m.

Josphat Kipchirchir was third in 30:50.5.

In the women's 8km contest, the margin was similar with Jepkorir taking the victory in 27:36.1, six-and-a-half seconds clear of Beatrice Chepkemoi.

Dorcas Chepchirchir was third, another five seconds back.