Race to the National Cross Country Championships set for Saturday in Lobo Village, Eldoret intensified as Emily Chebet and Geoffrey Rono dominated Nairobi region Cross Country meet at Nairobi West Prisons Grounds yesterday.
Londiani-based Chebet, Bahraini Winfred Yavi formed the the leading pack in the women’s 10km event alongside Mercy Cheokorir and Ann Nasisho before Chebet stormed into the lead with 2km to go.
Chebet won the race in 32:13.2 with Yavi who is used the event to prepare for next month’s Arab Cross Country Championships in Bahrain settled for silver slot in 32:23.7 while Cheokorir was third in 33:03.8.
“The course was hard, but I’m grateful for the victory. I’m now concentrating on the road races. And this season I hope to do well in half marathons and marathons,” said Chebet.
On her part, Yavi said: “I’m just testing my body and see how prepared I’m ahead of Arabs Cross Country Championships next month. I wish all participants at next weekend’s National Championships all the best.”
In the men’s category, Geoffrey Rono easily won the 10km senior competition after running from the front for the better part of the race.
Rono clocked 27:49.1 ahead of Musa Mitei who was second in 27:56.6 with Kenya Defence Forces man Meshack Letim closing the podium in 38:12.8
The 21-year-old Rono said: “I have had an easy race but I know the real battle lies ahead in Eldoret during the nationals. I hope to finish in a good position.”
In the U-20 category, Dennis Kipkurui claimed the race ahead of Nehemiah Kipyegon and Peter Kibui who finished second and third respectively.
Florence Chepkoech was victorious in the women’s U-20 category with Trizah Cherotich coming second while Yvonne Chepchirchir settled for the third spot.
“I dedicated a lot of time to exercise mostly on speed and endurance. I want to perform well at the nationals next week. I feel I can do better than the 13th place finish I managed last year,” said Chepkoech.
Meanwhile, national team coach Julius Kirwa is looking forward to a successful event at next week’s National Cross Country Championships at the Lobo Village, Uasin Gishu County.
The event will be used to gauge the country’s preparedness for the Agnes Tirop Memorial Cross Country Championships-part of the World Cross Country Tour-next month.
“It is the second time the cross country is going to be held outside Nairobi with the Eldoret Sports Club having hosted the first event (on February 23, 2019),” Kirwa observed.
“Most athletes are based outside Nairobi and we would like to see them compete thoroughly in their regions. Next year we might take it to Nyahururu or anywhere else, outside Nairobi again.”
Kirwa added: “Some athletes are unable to raise funds to travel to Nairobi for competitions and the idea of having events at the regions, especially cross country, is the best gift we can give them as part of their training.”