Samuel Chebolei wins in Eldoret (© Michelle Katami)
The inaugural Memorial Agnes Tirop World Cross Country Tour Gold event became a huge success as fans turned out in large numbers to witness the exciting action at the Lobo Village in Eldoret on Saturday (12).
Several of the world’s best distance runners battled against each other in the Kenyan city on a warm, sunny and sometimes cloudy day. Combined with the tough course, the victories were earned the hard way by the runners.
The senior women’s race was almost a repeat of the Kenyan Cross Country Championships, though this time Joyce Chepkemoi won the race with a bigger margin than the one-second gap from Margaret Chelimo last month.
With about two laps of the 2km course remaining, Chepkemoi had made a surge and continued to create a gap on Chelimo. She did a solo front run in the last lap, eventually crossing the finish line in a time of 34:02 with Chelimo coming seven seconds later in 34:09. Nespine Jepleting was a distant third in 34:22.
Samuel Chebolei also repeated what he achieved here three weeks ago on the same course in the senior men’s 10km race. In an exciting last lap, Chebolei held off a determined chase from Nicholas Kimeli to emerge victorious in 29:46. Kimeli came in second at 30:00, while Michael Kibet completed the podium in 30:10.
After what looked like a wrong timing of breaking away too early in the race, disappointment followed for Pamela Kosgei, who had won both the Kenyan Championships and at the Discovery Kenya Cross Country events in the U18 women’s 5km race. She would eventually finish here in third place after being passed by Joyline Jepkemoi who won it in 18:05 and Jepkoech Maurine who was second in 18:14.
As they approached the last 2km in the 6K U18 men’s race, Ismael Kurui made a move and broke away from his two companions at the leading pack. He managed to hold off Vincent Maiyo in the last 200 metres as the latter was rapidly closing in on him. He edged him by a second as he crossed the finish line in 18:15 against Maiyo’s 18:16. Charles Rotich was a distant third in 18:21.
The U20 women’s was won by Purity Chepkirui in 20:49 improving her position at the Kenyan Cross Country Championships by one place. Lucy Nduta finished second in 21:09 while Faith Cherotich finished third in 21:18.
Shadrack Chirchir won the competitive U20 men’s 8km race that saw the race favorite, Benson Kiplangat dropped out with one and half laps to go, in 23:55. Gideon Rono followed in 24:02 ahead of Dennis Kipkirui in 24:10.
Justin Lagat for World Athletics