Chepng’etich, Maruka star in Nairobi championships

By Dennis Okeyo: Sunday, February 10th 2019 at 17:58 GMT +3 | Athletics
Ruth Kipng'etich cross the finish line at Telkom groundduring the selection for the Nairobi team for the Nationals to be held in Eldoret. Feb 9, 2019' [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Reigning Dubai Marathon winner Ruth Chepng’etich and Linus Maruka yesterday won the Athletics Kenya Nairobi region cross country championships at Posta Grounds in Nairobi.

Chepng’etich opened a 300-metre gap as she won in 30.51.2. World mountain running champion Lucy Wambui arrived two minutes later in 32:16.9 while Londiani-based Emily Chebet sealed the podium places in 33:00.24. 

The 24-year-old Chepng’etich, who represented Kenya at the 2018 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain, finished 13th. Chepng’etich said she habours no interests in battling for a spot in the national team to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, on March 30.

“I’m not keen on cross country championships. I will compete in the trials and if I make the team, it’s well and good. I just want to use the cross country races to sharpen my speed in preparation for road races,” Chepng’etich said.

In the men’s front, six athletes formed the leading pack before two dropped mid-way leaving the race to Linus Maruka, Josphat Kiptorich, Silas Kiptoo and Joel Meli.

Maruka, who is coached by 2008 Olympic 1,500m champion Nancy Jebet Lagat, approached the bell with a scintillating pace to the finish line to win in 27:49.08.

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Kiprotich, 25, and 2018 Standard Chartered 10km winner finished second in 27:54.52 ahead of Kiptoo, who checked in second in 28:00.05.

“Most of my challengers are runners I know well since we train together in Ngong. That’s why I just wanted to hang on with them in the leading pack before speeding off in the final lap. I’m glad the strategy worked,” Maruka said. 

In the junior 6km women’s race, little-known Enit Yeko upset the pre-race favourites Olympics Youth 3000m silver medalist Mercy Chepkorir thanks to her superb front running.