Obiri shoots down rivals at Air Base: KDF parades best talent at cross country meet

KENYA DEFENCE FORCES CROSS COUNTRY Laikipia Air Base's Hellen Obiri stride to the finish line in the 10km Senior Women race during the 37th edition of the Kenya Defence Forces Cross Country Championship at Moi Air base on Jan 12, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Youngster Kering stuns rich field to win men’s race.

World 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri and newcomer Hillary Kering chalked up victories at 37th Kenya Defence Forces cross country championships at Moi Air Base Eastleigh, Nairobi, yesterday.

Obiri won in 33:31.6 ahead of Joyceline Jepkosgei (33:38.4), who set six world records within six months last year, returned second.

Moi Air Base’s Perin Nengampi, who is making a comeback from maternity, came third in 33:57.0 as Caroline Chepkemoi (34:19.1) of Kahawa Barracks and 2015 KDF cross country champion Sela Jepleting (35:00.9) finished fourth and fifth.

Representing Laikipia Air Base and fresh from finishing fourth at Campaccio race, an IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting in San Giorgio su Legnano in Italy last week, Obiri has set her eyes at the IAAF World Indoor Championships set for March 1-4, in Birmingham United Kingdom.

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“The course was a tough, having competitors like Joyceline in the lineup made it even tougher. But I am delighted to successfully defend the KDF cross country championships title.”

“I’m preparing for World Indoor Championships and still thinking on whether to compete in 5,000m at the Commonwealth Games in Australia,” Obiri said.

Jepkosgei, who is preparing for Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Half Marathon on February 9 is targeting the IAAF World Half Marathon scheduled for March 24 in Valencia, Spain.

“Obiri has a good kick and she utilised it well in the last lap. She deserves the victory. I will not compete at the Commonwealth Games since I am focusing on World Half Marathon,” Jepkosgei said.

In the men’s 10km battle, youngster Hillary Kering of Marsabit overcame stiff challenge to win in 29:43.3 edging out Frankline Ngelel and John Chepkwony.

Ngelel (29:39.8) of Laikipia Air Base finished ahead of Thika-based Chepkwony (29:48.2). Stephen Arita (29:49.7) of Nairobi and Erick Kiptanui of Embakasi closed the five best places clocking 2:55.3.

“I feared big names such as Geoffrey Kirui and Emmanuel Kipsang. But as the race progressed, I gained confidence. I’m grateful for the victory. Now I’m looking forward to the Athletics Kenya National Cross Country Championship at Uhuru Gardens,” said the 23-year-old Kering, who finished third in 2015.

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