Former Barcelona marathon champion Valary Aiyabei and Africa Junior champion Nicholas Kimeli yesterday won seniors races at the second Maria Soti cross country championships in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
Reigning East Africa secondary schools games champion Monica Chirchir and upstart Noel Rotich shone in junior races at the windswept cross country circuit inside Maria Soti Education Complex.
Aiyabei defended her title and has trained her sights on Nagoya Marathon in Japan. Competing before home fans, Aiyabei clocked 34:29.1 to win the 10km women’s race.
“I am a marathoner but I am using cross country races to improve my speed,” said Aiyabei, the 2015 Kass Marathon winner.
Aiyabei stormed into the lead from the gun and stepped up the pace at four-kilometre mark, winning in 34:29.1.
Delvine Meringor returned second in 34:33.9 as former Africa junior 1,500m silver medallist Eva Cherono completed the podium in 4:51:9.
Nicholas Kimeli, who won last year as a junior, returned to the competition championships to win the senior race. Kimeli, who is in the Commonwealth Games squad to Gold Coast, said the victory motivates him as he plans to win the 5,000m title that Caleb Mwangangi won in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2014.
“I started well last year and did well and hope to do the same this year. I want to win my first gold medal this year,” said Kimeli.
Monica Chirchir, the young runner in the national team for Africa Cross country championships led the 6km race from the start to win in 21:06.5.
She was followed by Naomi Cheptil (21:14.6) and Caren Jebet in 21:48.8.
In 8km junior men, upstart Noel Rotich won the race in 24:21.6, Robert Kiprop in second place in 24:30.1 and Michael Bett was third in 24:39.2. [Standard Sports]