The Memorial Agnes Tirop World Cross Country Gold Tour staged in Eldoret turned into a replica of the National championships that happened in the same venue last month.
Winners of the National Cross Country Championships held on January 22, reproduced the script to stamp their authority for the second time in three weeks at the challenging Lobo Village course during the global race, which marked the last of 14 World Cross Country Gold Tour series.
The meet turned into a Kenyan affair, with Samuel Chebolei and Joyce Chepkemoi who won the National Cross Championships beating a strong field of local and international athletes.
Kenyan athletes swept the podium in the 10km Senior Men race that kicked off at 3pm, after an opening ceremony graced by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and top Athletics Kenya officials led by the federation’s President Jackson Tuwei.
The only difference was the time. Chepkemoi cut the tape in 34:02, two seconds slower than her 34:00 during the national championships.
Chebolei on the other hand, ran 29.46, one second faster than his 29:28 in the same venue on January 22.
“I am happy to have won the national cross country championships and now the Agnes Tirop Memorial World. I competed in the race to honour Agnes Tirop who is my friend. We interacted a lot at team Kenya training camp,” Chebolei said.
The same was witnessed in the 10km women’s race after World 5000m silver medalist Margaret Chelimo came in second, the same position she placed in the national championships.
The women’s race was the marquee event, in honour of fallen athlete Agnes Tirop. Tirop was found dead in her house in Iten on October 13, last year.
Edinah Jebitok who won the AK Cross country meets in Iten and Kapsokwony, Margaret Chelimo, Celliphine Chespol, national champion Joyce Chepkemoi and Beatrice Chebet were in the leading pack from the first lap.
Chepkemoi took the lead from the third lap as Chelimo stuck behind her. She opened the lead in the final 2km and Jepleting overpowered her.
Chelimo ran 34:09 as Beatrice Chebet closed the podium in 34:22 in the women’s race. She was in a class of her own as she pulled through the challenging mud pit.
Nicholas Kimeli who placed fourth in the national championships came back stronger at the Memorial Agnes Tirop race, finishing second behind Chebolei.
He ran 30:00, while Michael Kibet timed 30:10 to finish third.
Chebolei said having raced in the course during the national cross country championships had given him an advantage.