The Kenya Cross Country Trials were held last weekend. Justin Lagat, correspondent for the Running Network and Runblogrun, was there and this is how he saw the events:
Asbel Kirui Training Group, February 2012, Kenya,
KENYA’S TEAM TO WORLD CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS, by Justin Lagat
This past weekend, on Saturday the 16th of February, in hot weather at the Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, Athletics Kenya (AK) selected a national team to represent Kenya at the World Cross Country Championships to be held in Bydgoszcz, Poland on the 24th of next month. Even though most of the bigwigs that were expected to be at the meeting, including Geofrey Mutai and Geofrey Kipsang, had opted to run in the RAK half marathon in Dubai instead, the remaining field was still one of the most competitive ever assembled in the Kenyan trials. In the start were cross country sensational, John Mwangangi; the 10km and 15km world record holder, Leornard Komon; 10,000m African champion, Kenneth Kipkemoi; 2010 world cross country champion, Joseph Ebuya; 5000m Olympic finalist, Isaiah Kiplagat and 10,000m Olympic finalist, Bidan Karoki.
With the hot weather and the competitive field, many athletes could not help but step out of the race. A leading pack that had John Mwangangi, Kenneth Kipkemoi, Isaiah Kiplagat, Bidan Karoki and Joseph Ebuya did not take long before disintegrating into a single file and most of them giving up the chase. Perhaps noticing heat waves in the grass covered course, the officials began to provide water to the athletes in their final stage of the race, which is not always usual in cross country events.
Little known Philip Rono, who trains in the Global Athletics club in Kaptagat, surprised many by emerging the winner. Timothy Kiptoo, who was one of the pre-race favorites, came in second. Geofrey Kirui was third, followed by Hosea Macharinyang, who was lucky to secure a place in the cross country national team to the world championships for the 8th consecutive time. Geofrey Kipsang, winner of the RAK half marathon, and Chepkok Kiprop, got wild cards to join the senior men’s team.
The senior women’s race was as competitive too, despite Vivian Cheruiyot, Linet Maasai, and other strong athletes who opted to run the RAK half marathon, missing in the field. There were some tensions with four false starts before the race started. This race was very entertaining to watch and unpredictable to guess the winner as a large pack of athletes maintained the lead for the better part of the race. After a tough battle, Margaret Wangare, who was part of the 2010 cross country team, won the race. Irene Cheptai from West Pokot was second, followed by Janet Kisa in third place. The pre-race favorite and this year’s KCB cross country jackpot winner, Emily Chebet, came in fourth. Another favorite athlete, Mercy Cherono, finished in the 48thplace, but still got a wild card to join the team.
In the junior men’s race, a fast pace was set early in the race and a few athletes soon remained in the leading pack with Leornard Barsoton playing the rabbit for the better part. A few meters to the finish, Ronald Kwemoi took up the lead and cranked up the pace with renewed energy as he came to win the first place. Leornard came second. Moses Mukono, who had been consistently at the podium in a number of preceding races, took the third place. Emmanuel Kiprono completed the list of the top four to cross the finish.
Perhaps, it is only in the junior women’s race that the expected winner actually won it, and she did it in a class of her own and with an impressive time and style. Faith Chepng’etich was able to maintain a long sprint in the last stages of the race that left her running alone ahead of the rest as she crossed the finish line. Agnes Chebet came in second with Roseline chepng’etich and Caroline Jepkoech following to take the third and fourth places respectively.
So far, below are the names that have made it into the list to represent Kenya in the world cross country championships:
1. Philemon RONO
2. Timothy KIPTOO
3. Geoffrey KIRUI
4. Hosea MACHARINYANG
5. Geoffrey KIPSANG
6. Kiprop CHEPKOK
1. Margaret WANGARE
2. Irene CHEPTAI
3. Janet KISA
4. Emily CHEBET
5. Mercy CHERONO
1. Ronald CHEBOLEI
2. Leonard BARSOTON
3. Moses MUKONO
4. Emmanuel KIPRONO
1. Faith CHEPNGETICH
2. Agnes CHEBET
3. Roseline CHEPNGETICH
4. Caroline CHEPKOECH
A national training camp will be commenced at Kigari, Embu from the 20th of this month and is expected to go on until the team leaves for Poland. This is a team that was selected in a transparent manner and is expected to do well at the championships. As they embark on their final preparations, I wish them the best.