Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor of Kenya on his way to winning the men junior's race in Punta Umbria (© Getty Images)
Nairobi, Kenya – The IAAF 2011 World Cross Country Championships junior men’s winner Geoffrey Kipsang and Leonard Oleititip triumphed in the men’s 12km senior races when the Kenya Police Service and Kenya Defence Forces had a double header with their respective cross country championships in Nairobi and Thika on Saturday (19).
In the corresponding women 8km races, top marathon runner Lucy Kabuu successfully defended her Police crown while double 2012 African Championships gold medallist Gladys Cherono came out on top to bag her first ever Forces cross country title.
Both institutions selected their teams for the KCB/AK National Cross Country Championships in Nairobi on 16 February, which is also an IAAF Cross Country Permit event.
Kipsang, Kabuu arrest loaded Police fields
Nairobi’s Ngong Racecourse grounds, which until 2010 were the home of the national championships, welcomed the annual Kenya Police jamboree.
Since his impressive global title win in Punta Umbria, Spain two years ago, Geoffrey Kipsang has matured into an impressive marathon running talent and ran 2:06:12 on his debut over the distance when he finished third at the Berlin Marathon last September.
However, he returned to the surface where he first made his name and breezed to victory in 35:00, almost a minute ahead of the pre-race favourite and 2011 Boston marathon champion Geoffrey Mutai, who finished second in 35:54.
London 2012 Olympic Games 5000m fifth place finisher Isaiah Koech rounded-off the Polic podium with third in 36:14.
“Last year was disappointing for me (as Kipsang didn’t make the Olympics) and my aim now is to return to the World Cross as preparation for the Moscow World Championships. I feel that my form is back,” commented the winner.
In the women’s race, Kabuu edged out 2011 World marathon champion Edna Kiplagat in a sprint for the line to retain her Police title in 27:17, against 27:18 for the latter.
Three-time World Cross Country Championships silver winner Linet Masai found herself in the unfamiliar position of fourth place here with 2011 national junior winner Janet Kisa taking the final podium position in 27:23.
“My aim here today was to represent my team and prepare for a marathon in April. My target is the World Championships in Moscow,” said Kabuu, who added that she would not be contesting a World Cross Country Championships berth.
Among the big names finishing well down the field was 2011 World Championships 5000m and 10000m gold medallist Vivian Cheruiyot in 10th place, who admittedly was using the race as a hard training run. The 2004 Olympic Games 5000m silver medallist Isabella Ochichi and two-time World Championships 3000m Steeplechase medalist Milcah Chemos came in 18th and 23rd respectively.
Oloitiptip stuns as Cherono rises at Forces
On a hard cotton soil course at the Thika Engineering Barracks, and in blistering heat, the best Kenya Defence Forces distance runners assembled for their annual showdown.
In the men’s race, the old order was toppled by exciting youngsters led by East Africa Defence Forces winner Leonard Oloitiptip.
After finishing fourth in this championship in the last two years, the Laikipia Air Base corporal out-sprinted this winter’s find Peter Mateelong 150 metres from the finish.
“My Deputy Platoon Commander told me to wait until the end and make my move. When I saw Matelong, Ebuya, Chumba and Kiptoo running against me, I was afraid at first,” said Olotiptip.
“Towards the end, I knew Matelong had a kick and I waited until the final bend,” added the winner, who completed the course in 36:07.
Mateelong, a winner at the Nyahururu (3 November) and Embu (22 December) legs of the domestic cross country series, clocked 36:09 as Linus Chumba took third in 36:16 to edge out the 2010 World Cross Country Championships winner Joseph Ebuya.
“I missed defending my title in Spain (in 2011) due to injury and bad form. After that, I was to go for further military training. I’ve had to train hard to regain my shape but I feel I’m coming back,” said Ebuya.
“I want to be like John Ngugi and Paul Tergat, who won the World Cross multiple times for the Forces and, when in good shape, I know I can do it like 2010 when I finished fourth here,” he added.
The 2008 Olympic Games 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop finished ninth.
The women’s race had among others, the Beijing 2008 Olympics 1500m champion, Nancy Jebet Langat, who returned to competition after knee surgery on 24 December and last year’s Defence Forces winner Sharon Cherop among the starters; but the pair finished well down the field and it was Gladys Cherono who had the last laugh.
However, Cherono was pushed all the way to the line by the resurgent 2009 World Cross Country Championships fourth place finisher and former Forces champion, Lineth Chepkirui before breaking loose with 200 metres left to cross the line in 27:40 and win by six seconds.
“Winning two gold medals at the Africa Championships last year has given me the encouragement to go for world competitions this season,” said last year's continental 5000m and 10000m champion on the track.
Mutwiri Mutuota (Capital FM) for the IAAF
Defence Forces (including regiment)
Senior men 12km
1. Leonard Oloitiptip (LAB) 36:07
2. Peter Mateelong (Nanyuki) 36:09
3. Linus Chumba (Embakasi) 36:16
4. Joseph Ebuya (Thika) 36:19
5. Menjo Kiprono (MAB) 36:22
6. Mark Kiptoo (LAB) 36:24
7. Kiplimo Kimutai (LAB) 36:28
8. Reuben LImaa (Kahawa) 36:33
9. Vincent Kiprop (Kahawa) 36:41
10. Mike Tiony (Thika) 36:48
Senior women 8km
1. Gladys Cherono (Kahawa) 27:40
2. Linet Chepkirui (MAB) 27:46
3. Gladys Chemweno (Thika) 27:47
4. Sela Jeplenting (Lanet) 27:52
5. Perin Nenkampi (MAB) 27:53
6. Anges Chesang (Isiolo) 27:54
7. Sharon Cherop (Isiolo) 28:03
8. Veronicah Nyaruai (LAB) 28:08
9. Fridah Mwikali (Embakasi) 28:10
10. Innes Chenonge (MAB) 28:15
Senior men 12km
1. Geoffrey Kipsang 35:00
2. Geoffrey Mutai 35:54
3. Isaiah Koech 36:19
4. Philemon Kimeli 36:27
5. Bernard Kipyego 36:35
6. Levy Matebo 36:39
7. Collins Ngeno 36:41
8. Philemon Rono 36:52
9. Asbel Kiprop 37:03
10. Lucas Rotich 37:03
Senior women 8km
1. Lucy Kabuu 27:17
2. Edna Kiplagat 27:18
3. Janet Kisa 27:23
4. Linet Masai 27:29
5. Viola Kimetto 27:30
6. Edith Chelimo 27:33
(Confusion between 7-9 places meant organisers only published the top six women finishers.)