Kenya's Emily Chebet wins the women's senior cross country title in Bydgoszcz 2010 (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Kisii, Kenya

Chebet returns to winning ways as AK XC series concludes in Kisii

Emily Chebet, the 2010 World Cross Country champion and Japan-based All Africa Games 10,000m silver winner, Bedan Karoki, posted commanding victories in the senior races as the 2011/2012 KCB AK Cross Country Series wrapped up in Kisii on Saturday (7).

The seventh and final leg of the series also witnessed World youth 1500m champion William Malel beaten to third in the men’s race as Agnes Chebet, bridesmaid in the second meet in Eldoret (12 November), trumped exciting prospect Mercy Chebwogen, who reigned supreme in the opening (Tala) and fifth (Nyahururu) events in the women junior runs.

Kisii Golf Club once again provided the scenic backdrop to the event held under intense sunny conditions.

Chebet revival gains momentum

Since her shock victory over Linet Masai at the Bydgoszcz World Cross in Poland, Chebet has failed to build up on her success as she missed out on the defence of her title when she was scorched at the Kenyan Trials for Punta Umbria last year.

However, the scorching weather prevailing in the country at the moment failed to check her resolve as she bids to re-establish herself as a force in Cross Country running when she completed a runaway victory in the women’s senior race in 27:28.0.

It was her second domestic cross triumph on the trot after she claimed the top honours at the Tuskys Wareng meet in Eldoret on 27 November.

Chebet’s breakaway win margin was a massive 28 seconds ahead of runner-up Beatrice Mutai (27:56.4) with Phanicier Jemutai, the winner of the second leg in Eldoret (13 November) coming third in  28:10.7.

And two days after organisers announced Caroline Kilel would return to defend her women’s title on 17 April, the Boston Marathon champion warmed up for the task by finishing fourth in 28:16.0.

“I have had a rough time since winning in Poland but I feel that I’m returning to good shape and I’m aiming for a better year. I will aim for selection in the national team for the African Cross Country at the nationals,” Chebet, who registered a DNF at the Trials for Punta Umbria asserted.

Another dominant winning performance was brilliantly executed by Karoki, who won the Fukuoka Cross in February last year before blasting to a 27:23.62 victory over 10,000m (15 May) in Kumagaya that was ranked No 12 for 2011.

Karoki, who missed selection for the Daegu Worlds after dropping out of the men’s 10,000m Trial with three laps to go having led from lap-5, completed the 12km course in 36:20.2 after tearing away from the field from 4km to romp home untouched.

The Japan based student was nonetheless granted wild card selection for his country’s team for the All Africa Games where he duly scooped silver (28:19.42) behind freshly minted World champion, Ibrahim Jeilan in Maputo (12 September).

Timothy Kiptoo, runner-up in the opener in Tala (13 November) arrived at the tape in 36:52.4, 32 seconds behind the winner, to lead the challengers home as Prisons Service runner, Fredrick Musyoki (36:54.5) settled for the final podium place.

Peter Kirui, the national 10,000m champion who placed sixth at the Daegu Worlds (27:25.63, PB) repeated the same position in Kisii in 37:13.2.

Champ Chepng’etich humbled

Having returned to action in the second meet in Eldoret after sitting for her Standard 8 national exams where she placed fourth, the reigning World Cross junior women and World Youth 1500m gold medallist, Faith Chepnge’tich once again failed to spark in a series she took four victories and the jackpot last season.

The charge for top honours in the 6Km run was fronted by Agnes Chebet, who was second in Eldoret and Mercy Chebwogen, who claimed victory at the opener in Tala and fifth edition in Nyahururu (3 December).

After running almost toe to toe from mid way, it was Chebet, the winner of the event at Tuskys Wareng Cross who found the legs to motor away from the jackpot chasing Chebwogen at the bell and she duly breast the tape victorious in 20:30.6.

Chebwogen (20:36.1) was comfortable in second as Sheila Chemutai (20:43.6) edged out Josephine Wambui (20:44.2) in the battle for third.

World Cross 2010 ninth finisher, Alice Aprot (20:48.0) was fifth as Chepg’etich lumbered across the line in sixth (20:57.0).

In the corresponding men’s 8km race, William Malel, the Lille 3,000m titleholder arrived as the overwhelming favourite after winning the opening two meets in Tala and Eldoret and finishing second in the third in Embu.

However, his prized scalp was claimed in sensational fashion by Justine Cheruiyot, who scored victory in the fifth leg in Nyahururu (December 3).

Cheruiyot broke away 200m into the bell with Leonard Barsoton, who placed sixth in Tala and won in Kapsakwony, in hot pursuit after the duo dropped Malel just before the seventh kilometre.

As they approached the final bend, Cheruiyot again shifted the gears to end Barsoton’s charge for the victory before he cut the tape arms aloft in 23:44.8. The bridesmaid arrived home in 23:46.7 as a fading Malel held on for third with the timer reading 23:57.0.

All set for Nationals

The conclusion of the seven meet series paves way for the IAAF Permit/AK National Cross Country on 18 February in Nairobi where the battle for the share of the Sh1.2m ($12,632) series jackpot that will be paid out after the last event.

Winners in each category will take home Sh400,000 ($4,200) and the Kenyan team for the Africa World Cross in South Africa will be selected.

Mutwiri Mutuota (Capital FM) for IAAF

Leading results

Senior Men

1. Bedan Karoki     36.20.2

2. Timothy Kiptoo   36.52.4

3. Fredrick Musyoki     36.54.5

4. Richard Sigei   36.57.0

5. Bernard Rotich     37.04.0

6. Peter Kirui     37.13.2

Senior Women

1. Emily Chebet     27.28.0

2. Beatrice Mutai   27.56.4

3. Phenecier Jemutai       28.10.7

4. Caroline Kilel       28.16.0

5. Faridah Chelang’a     28.26.1

6. Wanjiru Gatheru     28.30.6

Junior Men

1. Justine Cheruiyot     23.44.8

2. Leonard Barsoton     23.46.7

3. William Malel       23.57.0

4. Jonah Maina     24.06.2  

5. Philemon Yator     24.14.1

6. Isaac Langat         24.20.4

Junior women

1. Agnes Chebet     20.30.6

2. Mercy Chebwogen     20.36.1

3. Sheila Chemutai   20.43.6

4. Josephine Wambui   20.44.2

5. Alice Aprot     20.48.0

6. Faith Chepng’etich   20.57.0