NAIROBI, Kenya, January 31 – Guest runnerJoel Kemboi Kimurer was the surprise winner of the men’s 12-kilometre title at the Kenya Police National Cross Country Championships at the Ngong Racecourse in Nairobi on Saturday.,
Running in his first major cross country race, Kimurer, who trains in Iten and Kapcherop in the Kenyan Rift Valley, said his main aim was to be noticed and probably land a job with the Kenya Police force.
And noticed he was as he out sprinted pre-race favourite Sammy Kitwara to win the race in 38 minutes, 49.2 seconds, just over a second faster than second placed Kitwara of the police’s General Service Unit team.
The women’s race saw veteran world 5000m silver medallist from Osaka, Vivian Cheruiyot, winning and world junior 3000m Steeplechase record holder, Ruth Bosibori, placing fifth.
Kimurer takes advantage of wide open field
The men’s race lacked police favourite Moses Masai and with world 3000m Steeplechase bronze medalist Richard Mateelong withdrawing in the 11th hour, the race was very much anyone’s.
Olympic 1500m silver medalist, Asbel Kiprop, running in the Presidential Escort Unit’s team, set the early pace, bursting into the lead from the outset and dictating the pace.
Kiprop, who has been using the cross country meetings to get into shape, led for the first three laps of the two-kilometre loop before fading to seventh place in the fourth lap with Kitwara and Kimurer breaking off with two laps to go and opening up a 250-metre gap going into the final lap.
It was a two-horse race from then on with Kimurer out-sprinting Kitwara to the finish line to a huge applause from the small crowd that included Kenya’s Commissioner of Police, Major General Hussein Ali.
“My performance was good. It’s my first time at such a competition and my main aim was to be noticed,” said Kimurer. “When I got myself into the lead pack, I decided to hang in there.”
The 20-year-old, who trains under coach Boniface Tiren, competed in the junior race at the 2006 national cross country trials ahead of the World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, but finished 18th after being spiked.
“This time round, I want to train hard and finish in the top three at the national championships to make the team to the World Cross Country Championships.”
Kitwara was graceful in defeat: “I’m happy with the result because it was my first cross country race of the season. I will run one or two more before the national championships just to see how it goes.”
Cheruiyot warming up for debut indoor campaign
The women’s race was more closely fought with Vivian Cheruiyot, running for the Criminal Investigations Department team, going into the head of the leading pack after 2000 metres.
At the bell, a group of four – Cheruiyot, Pauline Njeri and Ann Cheptanui – had broken off from the rest of the field with Cheruiyot and Njeri involved in the final sprint to the finish that saw the latter win in 29:32.8 with Njeri timed 29:34.3.
Bosibori, representing the Coast Province, was fifth in 30:05.9.
Cheruiyot said she is not really focused in cross country running but will be taking a shot at the indoors this season.
“I just wanted to represent my department at these championships and I don’t intend to compete in cross country running. I will try the indoors this season as I have never run indoors,” she said.
Bosibori said she was also on official police duty at the championships and will train a bit more for the national championships where the Kenya Police will enter a team to compete against the Kenyan Armed Forces, Prisons, Administration Police, Schools and Athletics Kenya’s eight branches on 21 February at the Ngong Racecourse.
“I was representing my force and just starting off my season. I will train harder for the national championships which will also be just the beginning of my preparations for the World Athletics Championships in Berlin,” said Bosibori.
“But if I do well at the national championships, I don’t mind going for the World Cross Country Championships.”
The top eight finishers at Saturday’s Police championships will be joined by selected wild card entries to represent the force at the national championships which will also be used to pick Kenya’s team to the World Cross Country Championships in Amman on 28 March.
Men (12 km): 1. Joel Kemboi Kimurer (Guest) 38:49.2, 2. Sammy Kitwara (GSU) 38:50.7, 3. Joseph Kitur 39:28.2, 4. Jacob Yator (NEP) 39:30.2, 5. Bernard Kipyego (Dog) 30:39.3, 6. Asbel Kiprop (PEU) 39:41.4, 7. Emmanuel Chamer (NEP) 39:46.0, 8. Charles Sigei (CID) 39:52.4.
Women (8 km): 1. Vivian Cheruiyot (CID) 29:32.8, 2. Pauline Njeri (IND) 29:34.3, 3. Ann Cheptanui (Air Wing) 29:47.6, 4.Pascala Chepkorir (Dog) 30:02.8, 5. Ruth Bosibori (Coast) 30:05.9, 6. Margaret Wangari (Coast) 30:17.8, 7. Joyce Wanjiku (Traffic) 30:42.3, 8. Silvia Kibet (TPU) 30:50.1.