Kenyan Cross Country Trials forecasts a fierce competition in Guiyang (Feb. 14), the view from Kenya, by Justin Lagat
Bedan Karoki running the streets of Philadelphia, 2014, photo by PhotoRun.net
Justin Lagat, our long time correspondent from Kenya wrote three fabulous pieces that were caught up in my jet lag and travel. Here is the first, on the Kenyan Cross country trials and the wonderful team that Kenya will send to Guiyang, China.
Kenyan Cross country trials forecasts a fierce competition in Guiyang:
The senior categories of the Kenyan Cross Country Trials to select a team to represent the country in Guiyang, China next month were fascinating to watch and had spectators running around the Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi during the last stages of the races as they cheered their favorite athletes. The fields were very competitive. In the end, it was Geoffrey Kamworor versus Bedan Karoki in the men's race while it was Faith Chepng'etich versus Agnes Tirop in the women's.
However, as if to hint that they were not contented with the runners up positions they took today, both Kamworor and Tirop expressed their happiness at having made to the team as that was all they needed for today, but added that we should expect more from them at the world cross country championships.
"Today, I was fighting to make the team," said Kamworor, "but, in China, my aim will be to win the gold medal."
Agnes Tirop fought away tears of joy and excitement at having made the team as she spoke to journalists, claiming that she never expected to make it as she was not feeling well today. Now that she was able to finish second behind Faith despite not being in her best form, it will be interesting to watch a rematch of the two in China.
Bedan Karoki seemed to have been in control of the senior men's race after the first four kilometers. He had initiated a fast pace at the front that left the big leading pack quickly disintegrated into a single file. Soon, only four athletes were remaining in the lead. They were Karoki, Kamworor, Leornard Barsoton and Moses Mukono. By then, Karoki had moved behind this group and it was Barsoton acting like a pace maker at the front while Kamworor stayed patiently behind him as he awaited to pounce at the last lap of the 2km loop.
It was Karoki again who pushed the pace with less than two kilometers to go and Kamworor broke away with him. With a kilometer to go, both were running shoulder to shoulder and the spectators were thrilled. However, with about 200m to go, Karoki sprinted and Kamworor, who later spoke about that kick as what he will need to work on, could not match him. Leornard Barsoton followed the two to finish third while Moses Mukono finished fourth.
In the women's race, like it has always been in her recent races, Agnes Tirop took an early lead and started opening a gap with about two kilometers to go. But Faith Chepng'etich stayed just behind her. It was clearly a race between the two with one lap to go. As they approached the finish line, Faith Chepng'etich took advantage of her stronger finishing kick and left Tirop trailing her. Janet Kisa followed the two to finish third.
The junior men and women races were won by Dominic Kiptarus and Roselyne Chepng'etich respectively.
The senior races at the world cross country championships will likely be, in some way, a rematch of the just concluded Kenyan trials.