Three weeks after resounding victories at the Valencia Ibercaja 10km, Olympian Daniel Simiu and Norah Jeruto yesterday took the Discovery Kenya cross country titles, ending the first month of 2022 in style.
Simiu, who was using the 31st edition of Discovery Kenya cross country held at the Eldoret Sports Club to build endurance in preparation for World Indoor Athletics championships that will take place in Serbia in March, timed 30:40.0 in the 10km senior men’s category.
The 2020 5000m Olympian took part in the national cross country championships at the Lobo Village on January 22, but could not complete the race.
He was making his debut at the Discovery Kenya cross country – a race that has become a springboard for athletics talents for the last three decades.
Athletes such as two-time Olympic steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi and 3000m world record holder Daniel Komen started off their careers after posting impressive performances in the race, in the 1990s.
Kelvin Kibiwott came in second in 30:35.9 while Edward Cheserek closed the podium in 30:38.1.
Athletes ran on the challenging course where the 2019 national cross country championships were staged, but without the challenging 10 metre mud pit.
Simiu stuck in a leading pack of seven athletes before establishing an unassailable lead in the fourth lap, before he unleashed a powerful sprint in the final stretch.
He is eying a 3000m slot in the World Indoor Championships team and 5000m at the rescheduled Oregon 2021 World Championships set for July this year.
“I knew from the third lap that I was going to win the race. I was very thirsty for victory and I had to work hard. It was my debut here and I am thankful for the win,” Simiu, who trains in Iten, said.
“This is my last cross country this year. I came to test my endurance and I ran a fast time and I am looking forward to being on the top of the world. My target is to qualify for the World Indoors in Belgrade.”
In the women’s category, Jeruto and her sister Daisy Jepkemei, produced an exhilarating 1-2 finish in the 8km category. Both are 3000m steeplechasers.
Jeruto won the race in 33:29.6, while Jepkemei crossed the finish line in 34:04.5 to settle in second place. Dorcas Jepchirchir finished third in 34:21.8.
She took a firm control of the race in the last two laps, with Jepkemei behind her.
Jeruto said she is now eying the Memorial Agnes Tirop World Cross Tour and the Diamond League series.
“I am eyeing the World Championships and Diamond League and I expect a tough competition this year. I am ready for the face-offs because I know every athlete has trained well for the season,” Jeruto said.
“My sister and I planned to stick to each other throughout the race.”