NAIROBI, Kenya, January 14- Geoffrey Mutai, the Boston and New York marathon champion and 2006 double Commonwealth winner, Lucy Kabuu were the big winners at the annual Kenya Police Inter-Divisional Cross Country in Nairobi on Saturday.
The pair who have their gaze firmly fixed on the London Olympics lay their credentials on a sunny affair at the Ngong Racecourse by completing comprehensive triumphs over the assembled world class fields in the men 12km and women 8km events.
And despite the absence of triple world champion, Vivian Cheruiyot and thrice World Cross silver winner, Linet Masai among other established Kenya Police stars, this year’s event did not disappoint in the quality of the field that saw 300 start the men’s and 250 compete in the women’s races.
Resuming action since blessing the New York course with the course record best of 2:05:05 in November, Mutai, powered to a 25 second victory over the returning 2009 World Championships bronze winner, Moses Masai in the men’s division.
Mutai, 30, detached himself from the stellar line-up at the 4km mark and left all comers in his slipstream as he crossed the line in 37:38.0, pausing briefly to salute his superiors at main dais before breasting the tape.
“If given the chance to compete for my country at the London Olympics, and that would be a dream, then I will do all my best to ensure we retain the marathon gold won by Samuel Wanjiru in Beijing.
“Winning here today is not as easy as it looked and there is much more I need to do to get in the shape I was in last year. One thing is for sure, I will not seek to break my course records in Boston and New York if I have the chance since I went through a lot of punishment to achieve them,” Mutai who ran the staggering 2:03:02 course record in Boston last April asserted.
As they approached the quarter way mark (4km), the winner sped off from the challengers to open a comfortable 50m gap that went on increasing to the 150m gulf at the final bend with only the occasional wind for company.
With victory assured, an intense fight for silver was being as Masai and 2008 World Junior 10,000m silver winner, Titus Mbishei who had kept close to each other emerged at the final curve.
Masai who was fourth at Beijing Olympics and third in Berlin Worlds before injuries curtailed his career progression used his superior finishing knowledge from the track to nail silver in 38:07.3 as battling Mbishei took third in 38:07.3.
“It feels great to be back competing with the best, that is all I can say for now,” Masai, who has endured almost two seasons on the sidelines noted.
“I still have to work on my finishing since today, that is what cost me at least second place and my aim is to be in a position to challenge for an Olympics place and first outing for Kenya as a senior,” Mbishei said.
Bett sealed fourth (38:36.0), Matebo a place behind (38:40.6) with Langat (38:41.5), Joseph Kiptum (38:42.5), Denis (38:58.5), Kipsiele (39:02.4) and Kitwara (39:04.0) sealing the top ten.
In the women’s race, Kabuu, the 5,000m and 10,000m Commonwealth gold medallist in 2006 proved unassailable as she posted a crushing victory over potent competition.
The New Delhi Half Marathon champion charged to the lead with Edinburgh senior women eighth finisher and Bydgoszcz World Cross sixth finisher, Margaret Muriuki sticking close as world marathon champion, Edna Kiplagat maintained a pace alongside the front pair from the gun.
Kabuu motored away from her rivals to finish in 28:22.2 with Muriuki, who used her cross country running experience to separate from Kiplagat, taking silver in 28:45.7 as the world titleholder capped a fine showing in 28:59.1 for bronze.
“I have decided to abandon track running since my Achilles cannot handle spikes and that is why I’m aiming for a performance in Dubai that will see me considered for the Olympics marathon team,” the runner who will make her full marathon debut in Dubai at the end of the month said.
“I would like to make history in the country as the first holder of the Olympics and world marathon crowns. With the likes of (London champion), Mary Keitany and the girls we finished the 1-2-3 in Daegu still strong, this is the year Kenya should win a first marathon women gold,” Kiplagat expressed.
Upstart Consolata Jemutai claimed fourth (28:08.08) with last year’s national junior cross champion, Janet Kisia who was ninth in Punta Umbria (29:16.5) coming fifth as the All Africa Games 1,500m titleholder, Irene Jelagat (29:59.3) occupying the last top-ten position.
Police will select their team for the February 18 National Cross championships in Nairobi.
1. Geoffrey Mutai (CID) 37:38.0
2. Moses Masai (PEU) 38:03.3
3. Titus Mbishei (CID) 38:07.3
4. Josephat Bett (Central) 38:36.0
5. Levy Matebo (Nairobi) 38:40.6
6. Paul Langat (Nairobi) 38:42.5
7. Joseph Kiptum (North Eastern) 38:42.5
8. Denis Masai (Dog Unit) 38:58.5
9. Paul Kipsiele 39:02.4
10. Sammy Kitwara (GSU) 39:04.4
1. Lucy Kabuu (Rift Valley) 28:22.2
2. Margaret Wangari (Coast) 28:45.7
3. Edna Kiplagat (Nyanza) 28:59.1
4. Consolata Jemutai (Nyanza) 29:08.8
5. Janet Kisia (Vigilance) 29:16.5
6. Fridah Demongole (CID) 29:19.8
7. Mary Wangari (Vigilance) 29:27.8
8. Esther Chemutai (Vigilance) 29:36.7
9. Anne Wanjiru (KAPU) 29:45.2
10. Irene Jelagat (Dog Unit) 29:59.3