Kenya's Sheila Chepkirui Kiprotich (R) and silver medallist Irene Chepet Cheptai compete in the women's 10,000m athletics event at the Alexander Stadium, in Birmingham on day six of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, central England, on August 3, 2022. (Kelly Ayodi, Standard)

Sevilla Half Marathon champion Sebastian Kimaru and Commonwealth 10,000m silver medallist Irene Cheptai stormed to splendid victories at the Iten Cross Country championships yesterday.

The Kapsabet-based Kimaru outsmarted Geoffrey Koech from Kericho and Iten-based, 5,000m star Nicholas Kimeli, who placed second and third respectively in the senior men’s 10km.

Kimaru cut the tape in 30:35.7 while Koech and Kimeli finished the race in 30:38.7 and 30:47.5 respectively.

Kimaru pulled a surprise in January this year after winning the Sevilla Half Marathon in his 21km debut. He clocked 59:02 in his half marathon debut.

“My main target is to make the Kenyan team for Australia. It was a tough battle because all participants were well prepared. I am prepared to run for my country if given the opportunity,” Kimaru said after winning.

Cheptai from Elgeyo Marakwet County easily clinched the senior women’s title, holding Commonwealth 3,000m steeplechase champion Jackline Chepkoech from Uasin Gishu to second place in the fifth leg of Athletics Kenya (AK) cross country series. Millicent Kemboi from Iten came in third.

She ran 34:52.0 as Chepkoech and Kemboi crossed the finish line in 35:19.4 and 35:30.9 respectively.

“I consider this win as my exciting return to cross country because I have not taken part in cross country in recent years, yet that is where my career started. I promise to do my best if I make it to team Kenya,” Cheptai, the 2017 World Cross Country champion said.

Former World Under-20 800m champion Emmanuel Wanyonyi stunned Olympian Abel Kipsang in a blistering 2km senior men’s race at the Iten Sports Grounds. Kipsang who is representing Kenya Police finished second ahead of third-placed Daniel Kosen.

Brenda Jebet of Kenya Police and her teammate Virginia Nyambura took the top and second places at the senior women’s 2km race.

AK is using the cross country series to select a national team for the World Cross Country Championships set for February 18 in Bathurst, Australia. [Stephen Rutto]

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