By Joseph Ngure
KENYA: Veteran Pascalia Jepkorir and cross-country debutante Kenneth Kimutai braved scorching sun and spirited challenge from their colleagues to claim the North Rift cross-country seniors titles in Mosoriot.
Jekporir, 22, who trains in Kapsabet town, was too strong for her closest rival Stacy Ndiwa. Jepkorir, who is eyeing a chance to win a berth for the Kenya team to the World Cross Country Championships in Poland next month, covered the 8.4 kilometres course in 29:15.6.
The pretender to the throne was watched by reigning World Champion Vivian Cheruiyot on the sides. Cheruiyot said she will skip the Poland trip to focus on track competition.
“The race was good for me. I have trained well this season and my aim is to be in the national team to Poland. I’m ready for the challenge,” said Jepkorir.
Ndiwa, the 2008 World junior 1,500 metres champion, grudgingly settled for the second position in 29:28.2.
All African Games 3,000 metres steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng, also running for Keiyo District, clocked 29:32.0 for third while seasonal Pamela Lisoreng (30:10.8), former world cross-country silver medalist Priscah Cherono (30:15.9) and new comer Sophy Jepchirchir (30:33.2) followed in that order.
In senior men, Kenneth Kimutai, running as an individual, edged out pre-race favourite Joseph ‘Kondoro’ Kitur to win in 39:23.2.
“My training at Kapcherop has enabled me to win today. I have been doing a lot of road races but now I want cross-country. I can now wait for the nationals,” said Kimutai.
Kitur, a 10,000m specialist and competing for Nandi North, was relegated to runner up position. He crossed closely in 39: 23.8 ahead of Solomon Kirwa (39:34.3), Bethwel Chemweno (39:37.8) and Jackson Limo 39:44.2.
Cheruiyot won in 25:38.8 ahead of teammate Leonard Barsotoi who timed 25:44.3 as Josphat Kiprop (25:46.4) came third. Nicholas Bett (26:00.7) and Julius Tangi (26:04.8) followed.