Stella Chesang on her way to winning the senior women's race at the Ugandan Cross Country Championships (© Namayo Mawerere)
Three-time Commonwealth champion Moses Kipsiro was the biggest casualty at the Ugandan Cross Country Championships in Jinja on Saturday (6) as the provisional team was selected for next month’s African Cross Country Championships in Cameroon.
Phillip Kipyeko, the 2014 world junior mountain-running champion, successfully defended his title in the senior men’s 10km as two-time world cross-country medallist Kipsiro faded to sixth.
With the focus on Kipsiro, 2011 world junior cross-country silver medallist Thomas Ayeko and Daniel Rotich, it soon became clear that Kipyeko was the man to watch.
A large leading group featuring all the favourites covered the first lap in 5:40 and the second one in 6:02. The race heated up on the third lap when Kipyeko took the lead, causing the pack to crumble as Mande and Ayeko tussled for the two other podium positions.
The 21-year-old unleashed a powerful kick and opened a gap of 30 metres on Mande, winning in 29:17.
Kipsiro failed to match the pace of the front runners and crossed the finishing line in sixth place, clocking 30:06.
“It was tough running against experienced runners,” said Kipyeko. “I am happy to win my second title in a row. This is the same course I have used for the past two years. I can now put up big plans this year including the Rio Olympics.”
Chesang wins first national senior title
Following her win in the junior race for the past two years, world mountain-running champion Stella Chesang won her first national senior title, covering the 10km course in 34:33.
Chesang and fellow world cross-country teammates Zena Chebet, Emily Chebet and Nancy Cheptegei were among the 11 women sharing the early lead, covering the first lap in 6:43.
Chesang continued to lead on the third and fourth laps, closely followed by Chebet, who matched the pace and managed to lead through the fourth lap in 27:33. But Chesang pulled away on the final lap to win by 10 seconds.
“It was an easy race because I am used to training with my opponents in the Kapchorwa hills,” said Chesang. “However, I am happy that I have won my first senior national title in the event against top-class runners. Let’s see what happens at the African Cross in Cameroon.”
Bushendich and Chemusto take junior titles
The athletes who finished third in last year’s junior races progressed to the top of the podium this year.
In the junior men’s 8km race, Mande Bushendich held off a stiff challenge from Martin Musau and East African youth 1500m champion Abel Chebet. The three broke off from the rest of the leading pack during the second lap and they continued to exchange the lead in the process.
Mid-way through the fourth and final lap, Bushendich kicked ahead and opened up a 30-metre gap to clinch his first national junior title, clocking 23:58. Masau crossed the line 12 seconds later.
In the junior women’s 6km event, Commonwealth Youth 1500m silver and bronze medallists, Peruth Chemutai and Janat Chemusto, commanded the race from the second lap. They continued to exchange positions until the final 30 metres when Chemusto kicked to win the race in 20:33.
Namayo Mawerere for IAAF
Senior men (10km)
1 Phillip Kipyeko 29:17
2 Mande Abdalla 29:27
3 Thomas Ayeko 29:30
4 Daniel Rotich 29:36
5 Moses Kurong 30:04
6 Moses Kipsiro 30:06
Senior women (10km)
1 Stella Chesang 34:33
2 Zena Chebet 34:43
3 Nancy Cheptegei 35:00
4 Emily Chebet 35:17
5 Doreen Chemutai 36:28
6 Rebecca Cheptegei 36:43
Junior men (8km)
1 Mande Bushendich 23:58
2 Martin Musau 24:10
3 Abel Chebet 24:26
4 Anthony Ayeko 24:31
5 Sam Cherop 24:38
6 Victor Kiplangat 24:48
Junior women (6km)
1 Janat Chemusto Janat 20:33
2 Peruth Chemutai 20:35
3 Mercyline Chelengat 21:01
4 Risper Chebet 21:36
5 Ester Chekwemoi 21:42
6 Emma Chebet 22:03