Kamworor, Aprot dominate Cross nationals
World Cross Champion, Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor proved his class when he triumphed over archrival Bedan Karoki in the blue-riband 10km men senior race with Alice Aprot ran away with the honours in the corresponding women’s long race at the IAAF Permit/Athletics Kenya National Championships on Saturday.
Africa Youth steeplechase silver winner, Nixon Kiplagat, edged out step-brother Andrew Lorot, for the victory over the junior men 8km as World Youth silver and Africa Youth gold medallist in the steeplechase, Sandra Felis Chebet, demolished the competition in the women 6km showdown.
Kipsang who is readying to defend his IAAF World Half Marathon title next month, dethroned Karoki as the domestic titleholder by deploying his greater finishing power in a repeat of the finishing order from last year’s IAAF World Cross in Guiyang, China.
The clocks returned 28:19 against 28:24 as the two heavyweights mastered the muddy course as well as hot and humid conditions at punishing attitude during the event that unfolded at Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens in a thrilling climax that brought the sizeable crowd to their feet.
“I had prepared well for the race and I was under no threat. I knew it would be a tough race but in the end it was very competitive. Karoki is a great friend and we have run many races and we decided whoever is in the better shape and wins, there is no problem.
“It is my hope that I will be allowed to go defend my World Half title. My main aim is the Olympics 10,000m race where I want to run against Mo (Farah). My biggest aim is to win gold since I did not do it in Beijing last year, I will not leave any stone unturned to realize this dream,” the versatile Worlds 10,000m silver winner and 2015 New York Marathon runner-up told reporters after the race.
“The race was not easy and I’m happy with second. I was trying to win my fourth national title but it was not to be. I will give those who were behind me a chance to run for Kenya in Cameroon since I have competed for the country six times,” Karoki (Central) who was fourth in the men 10,000m race in Beijing remarked.
Barsoton, the reigning senior continental cross champion, Leonard Barsoton, led the challengers home for bronze in 28:26 before announcing he would forego a title defense at the third CAA Africa Athletics Championships in Cameroon to focus on making the 10,000m team for Rio Olympics.
“I have ran many times against Karoki and Kipsang and I’m getting closer. Last year I missed the World Championships team by a small margin and this time, I want to focus everything on making the Olympics team,” the Kenya Police runner added.
Charles Mneria (28:27/Nairobi), Phillip Langat (28:29/South Rift) and James Rungari (28:36) rounded the top six in a race where Kamworor and Karoki stayed with the leading pack of six at 4km that whittled down to five all the way past the bell when the Guiyang silver medallist uncorked a burst of speed.
Kamworor responded as the favourite pair put distance between them and the challengers before out-sprinting Karoki with the tape in sight.
Titleholder and champion, Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon, the silver medallist in 1500m from Beijing came in as the athlete to beat but only lasted for four kilometres before withdrawing ill.
That paved the way for Aprot (Nairobi), the younger sister to the 2010 World Cross Champion, Joseph Ebuya to take the race by the scruff of its neck after 4km and completing her triumph unchallenged in 31:32.
Chepng’etich’s elder sister, Beatrice Mutai (South Rift), 28, ensured family pride was not tarnished when she attacked from behind in the closing kilometer to take silver in 32:28 ahead of Kenya Defence Forces titleholder and former World junior champion, Sheila Chepkirui (32:34).
“Being called then dropped from last year’s World Cross team saddened me and gave me motivation to work hard to make the team this year. My brother has been so helpful in giving me morale and that is why I was confident to take off early and let them chase me,” the junior bronze medallist from the 2014 Africa Cross said.
Behind them, a slew of renowned distance runners followed.
Daisy Jepkemei, the 2012 World Junior steeple champion (32:42) led Janet Kisa who was in the Kenyan team for Guiyang (32:48), world 3000m-steeplechase champion, Hyvin Kiyeng (32:51) and former World Cross junior champion, Pauline Korikwiang (32:51) who finished in that order.
Nickson Kiplagat a form four student at Nairobi’s Riruta Central Secondary School, took the junior men 8km honours in 22:46 with his younger brother, Andrew Lorot (22:47), close behind in a flying conclusion.
Their coach, Gregory Kilonzo, was proud when another Riruta product, Isaac Kipsang (22:49) rounded the podium for the sweep as Willy Kwemoi (22:54) and Alfred Ngeno (23:00) sealed the top five after being cut adrift.
“I will bring something for Kenya in Cameroon. All I need is to train harder. Running with my brother gave me the push I needed for this,” the winner said.
Lorot added: “I let him win this since he is my brother. We share a father but different mothers but in Yaoundé, I will do everything to bring this for myself.”
In the opening race of the day, Sandra Felis Chebet chalked a fifth victory on home soil this season after crushing all comers in the most dominant display of the day.
It was her biggest domestic cross victory yet after winning the Athletics Kenya National Cross Country Series meeting of Nairobi (first), Iten (fourth), Machakos (fifth) and Sotik (seventh) when she took off from the rest on the second 2km loop to romp to victory in 18:48.
Miriam Cherop (19:12) fend off fast finishing Lucy Cheruiyot (19:12) for silver with Lucy Cheruiyot (19:13), Gloria Kite (19:17) and Winfred Mbithe (19:23) rounding the top five.
Athletics Kenya (AK) selected a provisional team of 32 to run for Kenya in Cameroon on March 12 under the tutelage of Sammy Rono as head coach assisted by John Chumo and Esther Kavaya.
Former AK public relations officer, Peter Angwenyi is the team manager with the selected team asked to report with their papers to Riadha House on Monday.
Athletes from Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Burundi, Sudan, Southern Sudan and Djibouti took part to qualify the event as an IAAF Permit Meeting, the penultimate event of this season.
– By Paul Kimani
Women junior 6km
- Sandra Felis Chebet 18:48
- Miriam Cherop 19:12
- Lucy Cheruiyot 19:13
- Gloria Kite 19:17
- Winfred Mbithe 19:23
Women senior 10km
- Alice Aprot 31:13
- Beatrice Mutai 32:28
- Sheila Chepkirui 32:34
- Daisy Jepkemei 32:42
- Janet Kisa 32:48
Men junior 8km
- Nixon Kiplagat 22:46
- Andrew Lorot 22:47
- Isaac Kipsang 22:49
- Willy Kwemoi 22:55
- Alfred Ngeno 23:00
Men senior 12km
- Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor 28:19
- Bedan Karoki 28:24
- Leonard Barsoton 28:26
- Charles Mneria 28:28
- Phillip Langat 28:29
PROVISIONAL SQUAD: Men 10km: Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor, Bedan Karoki, Leonard Barsoton, Charles Mneria, Phillip Lagat, James Rungari, Geoffrey Koech, Cleophas Rotich. Women 10km: Alice Aprot, Beatrice Mutai, Sheila Chepkirui, Daisy Jepkemei, Janet Kisa, Hyvin Kiyeng, Pauline Korikwiang, Margaret Chelimo, Men 8km: Nixon Kiplagat, Andrew Lorot, Isaac Kipsang, Willy Kwemoi, Ronald Kiprotich, Wesley Ledama, Elijah Kositany, Amos Kirui; Women 6km: Sandra Felis Chebet, Miriam Cherop, Lucy Cheruiyot, Gloriah Kite, Winfred Mbithe, Lilian Kasait, Ann Nyaguthi, Emily Chebet,