Ngelel, Njau emerge top in Machakos AK X-Country
By Gilbert Kiprotich For Citizen Digital Published on: November 23, 2019 03:00 (EAT)
Frankline Ngelel of Kenya Defence Forces and Mary Njau from Nyahururu claimed victories in the men and women senior races at the first leg of Athletics Kenya (AK) Cross Country series held on Saturday, at the Machakos Peoples Park.
The athletes had to battle it out in a tough muddy course owing to the heavy downpour experinced Saturday morning.
As athletes brace for the upcoming season, the senior men’s race attracted quite a huge entry including the defending champion Julius Tanki.
It was training mates, Tanki and the World Under-20 3000m steeplechase silver medalist Leonard Bett who were destined to victory as the duo exchanged the lead.
It was however in the last two kilometres that Ngelel who was trailing the pair stepped up to win the race in 29:40.7 as Tanki placed second in 29:45.6 while Bett would come home third in 29:50.2
The Iten-based Ngelel who was making his second appearance said although it was somehow slippery he had trained well and was ready for the victory.
“The course was muddy but for me I was ready for everything because I am currently preparing for the East Africa Cross Country Championships. I was waiting for the right time to make a move and when I saw them (Tanki and Bett) slowing down in the last lap, then Idecided to go for the win,” said Ngelel.
Unlike the men’s race, the corresponding women’s race attracted a relatively fewer athletes where Njau reigned supreme in 35:35.1 with Faith Jeptoo finishing second in 35:38.0 as Mary Nyaruai ranked third in 35:42.9.
Njau who trains with the 2016 World Half Marathon silver medalist Bedan Karoki said she is using the meets as she prepares for the upcoming season.
“It was really tough because the course was muddy and slippery but I thank God for the win. I am now looking forward to the Ol Kalou meet before the national championships,” said Njau.
Josephat Too from Silibwet Athletics Camp outsprinted home boy John Kavesa to win the 8km junior men race in 24:24.6 as Kavesa came in second in 24:26.8 while Nicholas Chelule finished third in 24:29.2.
Too who trains under the tutelage of John Kimetto said he is now hoping to make the cut to the Africa Cross Country Championships.
“The race was tough since the course was slippery but when I realised that I was pulling away from the rest of the pack, I decided to go for the win,” said Too who placed 16th last season in the same event.
Kavesa-the Youth Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion was content as he retained his second spot he achived last year.
“For me I am happy to finish second since I just completed my examinations (KCSE) yesterday. I want to have enough preparations ahead of the nationals,” Kavesa told Citizen Digital.
In the 6km junior women’s race, it was a close encounter as Keringet-based Edna Chepkemoi took top honours in 21:07.3 ahead of Janet Nyiva (21:07.9) and Cynthia Chepngeno (21:14) who placed second and third respectively.
Chepkemoi who is a form two student at Mogonga High School said she is eyeing a slot in team Kenya for the Africa Cross Country Championships slated for Lome, Togo next year as well as the World Under-20 championships to be held in Nairobi.
“The course was tough but I am happy to win my first cross country race. I am focusing on the Africa championships and therefore I also intend to compete at the Ol Kalou meet,” said Chepkemoi.
After the Machakos meet, athletes will now shift focus to the second leg slated for Sotik, Bomet County on December 14.
Ol Kalou will host the third leg on December 21 thereafter Kapsokwony will play host to the fourth leg on December 28.
The fifth and final leg will be held on January 4 in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County.
10km senior men
1 Frankline Ngelel 29:40.7
2 Julius Tanki 29:45.6
3 Leonard Bett 29:50.2
4 Allan Biwott 30:07.1
5 Leonard Kirui 30:11.2
10km senior women
1 Mary Njau 35:35.1
2 Faith Jeptoo 35:38.0
3 Mary Nyaruai 35:42.9
4 Margaret Nduta 35:49.5
5 Emmaculate Chepkirui 35:52.1
1 Josephat Too 24:24.6
2 Jackson Kavesa 24:26.8
3 Nicholas Chelule 24:29.2
4 Emmanuel Kiprotich 24:34.6
5 Wesly Rono 24:44.9
6km junior women
1 Edinah Chepkemoi 21:07.3
2 Janet Nyiva 21:07.7
3 Cynthia Chepngeno 21:14.0
4 Agnes Mumbua 21:14.2
5 Isca Chelangat 21:22.0