Conseslus Kipruto, photo by PhotoRun.net
The fans in Eldoret were treated last weekend to some fine racing, as the last meet of the Athletics Kenya Spring series drew to a close. Our man in Kenya, Justin Lagat was there, and he followed the meet for RunBlogRun, providing the following highglights piece on the Athletics Kenya meeting and some of the fine performances from Kenyan athletes, both on and off the track.
Highlights of the last Athletics Kenya track and field meeting in Eldoret’s Kipchoge Keino Stadium, by Justin Lagat
The Athletics Kenya meeting that happened this past weekend in Eldoret was huge. Seven of the medalists from last year’s Beijing world championships took part in various events: Asbel Kiprop ran in the 800m, Ezekiel Kemboi ran in the 1500m, Julius Yego threw the Javelin, Nicholas Bett ran in both the 400m and 400m Hurdles, Conseslus Kipruto ran in both the 5000m and the 10,000m events, Elijah Manangoi ran in the 800m while Eunice Sum ran in the women 800m.
Jairus Birech, who is the Diamond League winner in the past two consecutive series also took part in three events; the 1500m, the 5000m and the 10,000m. Thomas Longosiwa also ran in the 1500m and the 5,000m events. Silas Kiplagat ran in the men’s 800m. With so many stars present, I may have missed some, but the ones I have mentioned should be enough to describe how big the event was.
Maurine Jelagat showed that she is back in great shape by dominating the 100m, 200m and 400m sprints. With the current form she is in, Kenya definitely has a chance to medal in the women’s 400m event at the Rio Olympic Games.
But it was Kenya’s best steeplechasers at the moment that made the meeting more fun. On the first day, Jairus Birech and Conseslus Kipruto met in the same heat of the men’s 5000m. When the two of them and one other athlete were the only ones still remaining on the leading pack, Birech stepped out of the race and denied fans a chance to watch the two athletes dueling in a finish against each other.
Ezekiel Kemboi took on the 1500m runners and engaged a great finishing kick in the last 100m to win the first heat. However, he did not turn up again to run in the semi-finals. Instead, while the 1500m semi-finals were taking place, he bought cases of soft drinks and water and asked them to be distributed to a large crowd that sat close to where he was.
On the final day of the competitions, Conseslus Kipruto chose to run in the 1st heat of the men’s 10,000m race that had about 65 runners and was able to win it. Jairus Birech ran in the second heat that had about 70 runners and also won it in a faster time. It was like the steeplechasers were playing mind games against each other ahead of the IAAF Diamond League season.
Besides the steeplechase runners, Asbel Kiprop was one other athlete who never disappointed the fans who had turned up in large numbers to see him running.
He ran a sensational 800m on the first day of the meeting to record the fastest time ever ran on the stadium. He repeated another great run the following day and broke his day old record.
Due to the lack of electronic timers, Kiprop’s official times were quite slower than what Kiprop and most of the fans had recorded, but talking to RunBlogRun reporter later after the race, Kiprop said that he was timing himself purposely to gauge his form and to project on what he will be capable of doing later in the year. He said he was happy with what he saw on his sports watch.