By: AYUMBA AYODI
Dominic Kiptarus and Caroline Chepkoech graduated to the senior ranks in style on Saturday when they won the Nairobi County Cross Country men’s and women’s 10 kilometre races at Posta grounds, Ngong Road.
World Cross junior men’s bronze medallist Alfred Ng’eno powered to victory in the junior men’s 8km race as World Youth 2,000 metres steeplechase silver medallist and Africa Youth 2,000m steeplechase champion Sandra Chebet won the junior women’s 6km competition.
Kiptarus, who also won the junior 6km title at the national championships in February before finishing fourth at the World Cross in March in Beijing, triumphed in 28 minutes and 8.66 seconds.
The 10km men’s race was run for the first time, the 12km having been scrapped as per the new IAAF cross country competition format.
The 19-year-old Kiptarus worked his way up to the front of a seven-man pack midway before the battle narrowed to him, Bernard Kipkemei and Geoffrey Kimutai going into the final two kilometres. He then relegated Kipkemei to second place in 28:10.69 as Kimutai settled third in 28:13.21.
“I knew it would be a fast race after it was reduced by two kilometres,” said Kiptarus. “It’s good to graduate to the senior level in style.”
Chepkoech, Nancy Nzisa and Lisbon Marathon champion Visiline Jepkesho were shoulder-to-shoulder with four kilometres left but Chepkoeck opened a 20-metre gap going into the final lap.
The fourth-place finisher in the junior race at the 2013 World Cross in Poland, Chepkoech, romped home in 32:19.2 with Nzisa second in 32:41.8. Jepkesho, third in the Paris Marathon, finished third in 33:09.1.
“My body feels great and there is no more pain in my left knee,” said Chepkoech, who will take part at the Nyahururu, Machakos and Sotik Series before seeking a place at the Africa Cross Country championship and thee 5,000m race in the Rio Olympics.
Ng’eno was ruthless with his pace to open the gap with two kilometres to go, winning in 22:11.50 while Africa Cross junior silver medallist Andrew Lorot finished second in 22:19.51. Joshua Nakeri settled for third place in 22:21.12.
“I knew I was running against strong opponents and I didn’t have a strong kick,” said Ng’eno, who finished third during the national championships. “That is why I decided to hit the front much earlier.”
Chebet, who is the Africa Youth 2,000m steeplechase champion, romped home in 18:53.0, ahead of Immaculate Chepkirui (18:58.3). Her twin sister, World Youth 3,000m silver medallist Emily Chebet, was fourth, behind Mirriam Cherop.
Men’s 10km: 1.Dominic Kiptarus 28:08.66, 2.Bernard Kipkemei 28:10.69, 3.Geoffrey Kimutai 28:13.21, 4.Peter Kipkemei 28:16.88, 5.Cleophas Ng’etich 28:20.56
Women’s 10km: 1.Caroline Chepkoech 32:19.2, 2.Nancy Nzisa 32:41.8, 3.Visiline Jepkesho 33:09.1, 4.Pauline Wangui 33:14.6, 5.Eunice Kioko 33:24.3
Junior men’s 8km: 1.Alfred Ng’eno 22:11.59, 2.Andrew Lorot 22:19.51, 3.Joshua Nakeri 22:21.12, 4.Richard Kimunyan 22:28.97, 5.Moses Koech 22:37.79
Junior women’s 6km: 1.Sandra Chebet 18:53.0, 2.Immaculate Chepkirui, 3.Mirriam Cherop 19:11.1, 4.Emily Chebet 19:16.4, 5.Jackline Chepkoech 19:30.7
SOURCE: DAILY NATION