All Africa Games 10,000metres silver medalist Lenard Barsoton of Kenya Police Service and fast-rising Irene Chebet Cheptai from the same team elicited excitement with unpredicted victories during Athletics Kenya Lotto National Cross Country championships in Nairobi on Saturday.
The duo, who were given little mention by fans and the local media prior to the race, electrified the boisterous Uhuru Gardens west of the capital to claim privileges that will see them anchor the national cross-country team for the 42nd IAAF World Championship slated for Kololo grounds in Kampala, Uganda next month
It was a deserved breakthrough for Barsoton, who celebrated his 22nd birth day anniversary last October, after eclipsing cross country masters Bedan Karoki and Geoffrey Kamworor who ruled the edition last year with the latter carrying the victory.
“This is a good sign that I can win the race in Uganda. I have trained well and if we work together as a team, we will win both individual and team title in Kampala,” said the champion, a junior silver medalist with a 27:20.74 career best in 10,000metres after winning the senior men 10Km in 28:56.3
Karoki, smarting out of a sizzling 59:10 in RAK Half Marathon a week ago, came from behind to claim the second place in 29:02.3 while Kamworor, the reigning World Champion in the event, timed 29:03.4 during the championships sponsored by Athletics Kenya and Lotto Foundation.
In women, Cheptai, who won this year’s edition of NIKE Discovery Kenya Cross Country before claiming another victory in Almond Blossom on 5th this month, took the 10Km senior women crown after pre-race favourite Alice Aprot was slowed down by stomach problems.
Cheptai, who turned 25 on 4th this month, hit the tape in 31:47.5 ahead of World Youth Champion Lilian Kasait from South Rift and Olympic champion Faith Chepng’etich, also South Rift, who came second and third in 31:51.9 and 32:12.9. Pre-race gamble Alice Aprot, representing Kenya Prisons, settled for the 4th position after completing the 5-2Km loops in 32:18.8. The Prison warder graduate put up a spirited fight amidst running stomach that curtailed her effort of winning.
In the under 20 years division, Richard Kimuyan and steady Sandra Chebt, representing Central Rift and Nairobi respectively regions, turned tables on their opponents to take home the trophies.
Kimuyan clocked 23:03.2 to win the men’s U20 8Km while Chebet, unbeaten in several local races, returned 19:25.1 to win the women’s U20 6Km during Championships that also featured the mixed Relays won by the Kenya Police Service.
The first 6 to cross the finish in each group were selected for the World Cross Country championships that will take place in Kampala Uganda on March 26 this year.
1. Lenard Barsoton 28:56.3 (Police)
2. Bedan Karoki 29:02.3 (Police)
3. Geoffrey Kamworor 29:03.4 (Police)
4. Vincent Rono 29:06.3 (Prisons)
5. Leonard Komon (Coast)
6. Leonard Lagat (South Rift)
1. Irene Cheptai 31:47.5 (Police)
2. Lilian Kasait 31:51.9 (South Rift)
3. Faith Chepng’etich32: 12.9 (South Rift)
4. Alice Aprot 32:18.8 (Prisons)
5. Agnes Tirop 32:47.4 (Police)
6. Hyvin Kiyeng 32:52.3 (Police)
1. Richard Kimuyan 23:03.2 (Central Rift)
2. Meshack Kyuguti 23:10.0 (Southern)
3. Wesley Ladema 23:13.3 (Nairobi)
4. Edwin Kiplagat 23:14.5 (South Rift)
5. Amos Kirui 23:17.1 (South Rift)
6. Ronald Kirui 23:22.0 (South Rift)
1. Sandrafelis Chebet 19:25.1 (Nairobi)
2. Cellephine Chepteek 19:46.6 (Nairobi)
3. Sheila Chelangat 19:49.6 (South Rift)
4. Immaculate Chepkirui 19:51.8 (South Rift)
5. Joyline Cherotich 19:53.8 (South Rift)
6. Esther Muthoni 19:58.1 (Nairobi)
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