Justin Lagat, our Kenyan senior writer, wrote this piece on the AK event in Iten this weekend, a cross country meeting. Words and photos are from Justin Lagat.
There is a difference between a runner with great talent and a runner in great form. Then, there are rare occasions when a runner with great talent enters a race when they are in great form.
This must have been the case in the men’s junior race at the second leg of the Athletics Kenya cross country series in Iten when Shadrack Kipchirchir stretched the field until a few runners were following him in a single file. But, he was not yet done. He suddenly catapulted himself in one of the toughest sections on the course and was in no time at all almost 250m ahead of his competitors.
Spectators were moved by the show of tremendous form by Kipchirchir. Others were loudly asking the name of the runner and lamenting why the announcer was not giving it out. But, even before the announcer could say, the name had spread like a wildfire across the crowds as the runner enjoyed his solo run well ahead of others and seemed to be doing it so effortlessly.
The two senior races were both two-horse races.
Robert Kiprop and Titus Mbishei made the men’s race interesting in the last stages as Mbishei ran slightly ahead of Kiprop who refused to be shaken off. Kiprop definitely knew that both of them were feeling the same pain and that the one who was going to persevere longer between the two of them will emerge victorious. Kiprop overtook Mbishei who appeared to have had no more strength to engage another gear towards the end of the race and continued to sprint to the finish line.
It was between Ednah Jebiwott and Purity Komen in the women’s race. Unlike in the men’s race where it happened only in the last stages, the battle for the title here started quite early in the race as Jebiwott struggled to make an early break, but Komen would fight back and close the gap before it would be opened again, a number of times. In the end, Jebiwott was able to create a gap that was enough for her to secure the win when it came to the last sprint to the tape.
Zenah Jeptoo comfortably won the junior women’s 6KM race after breaking away from Faith Jerotich who had been giving her company for the better part of the race.