Japheth Korir and Emily Chebet might have to rely on the discretion of their local provincial officials to make the Kenyan Championships in two weeks’ time as the world cross-country champions failed to qualify by right from the South Rift Province Championships in Kericho on Saturday (31).
In gruelling conditions with temperatures peaking at above 30 degrees Celsius, Chebet dropped out of the women’s 8km race before the halfway point while Korir was hampered by a stitch in the closing stages of the men’s 12km and dropped from eighth going into the last lap to outside the top 20.
The top six runners from each race qualified for the Kenyan Championships on 14 February but officials could still give the likes of Korir and Chebet – and Mercy Cherono, who finished seventh in Kericho – a wildcard if other provinces don’t fill the six allocated slots.
In the women’s race, Sheila Chepngetich scored another decisive win.
The 19-year-old romped to victory in 27:04 over former Boston Marathon winner Caroline Kilel, who was second in 27:25. World junior cross-country champion Faith Kipyegon was third in 27:32.
In the men’s race, 20-year-old William Sitonik took the plaudits in 36:25, coming home well ahead of Isaac Langat and Bernard Kipkemoi, who were second and third in 36:34 and 36:41 respectively.
Sitonik, who is based in Japan, doesn’t have much of a cross-country pedigree but the 20-year-old looks to be settling into the senior ranks after excelling as a teenager. He won the 2011 world youth 3000m title and then bronze over 5000m at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships.
Renowned track exponents Isiah Koech and Edwin Soi finished sixth and eighth respectively.
The closest race of the day was the junior women’s 6km in which steeplechaser Roseline Chepngetich, who finished seventh in Bydgoszcz two years ago at the age of 15, won in 20:28 ahead of Ivine Chepkemoi in the same time.
The junior men’s 8km was also a close one with John Langat winning in 23:43 ahead of Alfred Ngeno, who was second in 23:45, and Davis Kiplangat, third in 23:46.
Karoki qualifies comfortably for Nairobi
Despite facing some tough conditions, Bedan Karoki easily won the Central Region Championships in Nyeri on Saturday to qualify for the Kenyan Championships in Nairobi next month.
Karoki, who ducked under the 27-minute barrier for 10,000m in 2014, won the men’s 12km race in 35:59 ahead of fellow Japanese-based runners Bernard Kimani and James Rungaru.
Ann Wanjiru won the women’s senior race.
At the Nairobi Cross Country Championships on Saturday, teenager Moses Mukono won the men’s senior race in 32:46 ahead of Abel Rop in 33:04, with Lucy Murigi winning the women’s equivalent.
“It feels good to graduate to the senior ranks with victory just in my second race this season,” Mukono told local media. “I just finished my secondary school education last year and I have just started training (seriously).”
African winners at European Champion Clubs Cup
Fresh from running 7:47.77 for 3000m indoors in Dusseldorf, Morocco’s Otman El Goumri stepped up to win the men’s 10km at the European Champion Clubs Cup in Guadalajara, Spain on Sunday (1).
Running for French club Ales Cevannes Athletisme, El Goumri won in 31:09 ahead of the Netherlands’ Jesper van der Wielen and Spain’s Ivan Fernandez, second and third in 31:20 and 31:25 respectively.
In the women’s 6km, Turkish club Uskudar Belediye took a one-two courtesy of Irene Cheptai from Kenya and Ozlem Kaya in 20:43 and 20:46.
Lily Partridge took third in 20:54 while one of the pre-race favourites, Portugal’s Sara Moreira, finished down in seventh in 21:32.
Home team CA Union Guadalajara packed well to grab the men’s title, while Uskudar Belediye won the women’s title.
At the South African Cross Country Trials, held at the Kagiso Sports Complex on the outskirts of Johannesburg, Precious Mashele upset pre-race favourite and well-known international runner Stephen Mokoka in the men’s senior 12km on Saturday.
Mashele, who finished fourth at the national championships last year, beat Mokoka by one second in 38:04. He is reportedly targeting a top-20 finish at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang on 28 March.
Marathon runner Nolene Conrad won the women’s 8km in 28:57 ahead of Amina Bettiche, second in 29:09.
Former IAAF world 1500m junior silver medallist Amela Terzis won the 48th edition of the White Cross race in Belgrade for the sixth year in succession on Sunday.
Staged over the unusually short cross country distance of 3km, the 1500m specialist won in 10:13 ahead of her veteran team-mate Sonia Stolic in 10:20. Biljana Cvijanovic completed an all-Serbian podium in third in 11:08.
If Terzic returns next year, she could match Olivera Jevtic’s record of seven consecutive wins in the senior race in Belgrade.
In the men’s 8km, Hungarys Laszlo Gregor won in 25:30. Bosnia's Osman Junuzovic was second in 25:54 and Jasmin Ljajic, from Serbia, third in 26:25.
Steven Mills (with assistance from Kip Evans) for the IAAF