By Joseph Ngure And Jonathan Komen
A Form Three student Gideon Kipketer and former Commonwealth Youth Games 1,500m champion Stacy Ndiwa mounted spirited fight to win senior races during the annual Wareng Tuskys Cross-country in Eldoret.
The two, who are making their maiden appearances in the senior categories, had to engage their youthful energies to beat experienced big weights when the seventh edition, sponsored by Tuskys Supermarkets and Komora holdings, took place at Huruma Playing grounds.
Kipketer, a student at Kimwogo Secondary School in Keiyo South, took to the lead with half marathon specialist Hosea Nailel and David Maru controlling the pace.
The three ran neck to neck after breaking away from the crowded senior race that had attracted 356 including cross-country greats Bernard Kipyego, Joseph Ebuya, Shadrack Kosgei, Mike Kigen and new found Clement Langat.
At the bell, Kipketer, who finished eighth during the 2010 World cross-country in Poland, unleashed final kicks and outwitted close chasers to braze the tape in 36:04.1 at the open course that saw the strong wind and cloudy weather take toll on the runners to win the edition.
“The wind was too strong and I had difficulty breathing especially while running eastwards. But I am delighted to win my first senior,” said Kipketer who has just started his cross-country training after closing the school.
Clement Langat, a silver medallist at the Poland World Championships and the reigning Africa senior men champion, employed his traditional sharp kicks to finish second in 36:04.9 ,while Nailel, also Safaricom Baringo Half Marathon winner, arrived third in 36:07.3 amidst confusion at the funnel.
Little known David Maru beat Mombasa 2007 World cross silver winner Bernard Kipyego to finish fourth in 36:13.1 while the latter managed 36:39.2 to wind up sixth. Rono Kipng’etich was fifth in 36:13.5. Joseph Ebuya, the 2010 world cross-country champion, disappeared off the radar.
In the women seniors, Ndiwa who was second at the KCB/AK meeting in Kisii outran world cross-country sensation Pamela Lisoreng and Frankfurt Marathon runner-up Georgina Rono to win the 8km race in 27:30.6.
Ndiwa, an alumnus of AIC Kosirai Girls in Nandi Central, said: “The win was a surprise to me since this is my first cross-country race in the seniors. My focus now is the World Cross Country Championships next year.”
Lisoreng (27:32.7), Rono (27:43.1) and Hela Kiprop (27:54.3) followed as Irene Chebet (28:00.7) and Emily Biwott (28:07.3) came fifth and sixth respectively.
Africa cross-country silver medallist Agnes Chebet blew away a strong line up to win the women’s 6km in 20:47.1 ahead of Jackline Chebwogen (21:03.6) and Sharon Jeptoo (21:21.6). Celestine Temko (21:38.1), Caren Jeptoo (21:40.3) and Esther Kaguri (21:41.4) followed.
Newcomer Kipruto Bett carried the men’s junior race in 24:12.1.