NAIROBI, Kenya, January 13- It was a busy weekend for the country’s top runners as the countdown to the 2012 London Olympics continues to toll.
From Lanet, Nakuru to Elgoibar, Spain, the nation’s cream of distance running put their best foot forward in a bid to get in the best shape for Olympics selection spread across April, May and June.
Kiprop mows G Mutai in Eldoret
For more than a year, Boston and New York marathon champion and course record holder has not tasted defeat but the long streak was broken in Eldoret by a man he is familiar with on Sunday.
World Half Marathon champion, who was forced out of the national team to the Daegu Worlds with knee injury in the 11th hour, Wilson Kiprop, once again proved to be the only man in the planet who can match and beat Mutai’s charged running.
The event was the men’s 12km long race at the Discovery Cross Country that recorded record number of entry, with 2,155 athletes facing the starting gun across the four races on the cards.
The definite winner only became clear in the final lap when Kiprop upped the pace to drop three other challengers, Mutai, Olympics and World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop and Nickson Chepseba.
But Mutai and Kisorio managed to hang on until the last kilometre when the winner and the Boston champ managed to drop Kisorio. Kiprop blasted off in the last 200m to clinch the victory in 34:48.9.
Mutai took the second position in 34:53.0 and Kisorio was third in 35:04.0. Asbel finished eighth in 35:35.4.
The world half marathon titleholder topped Mutai at the Trials for the Africa Athletics Championships in 2010 before winning gold at the event proper where the Boston and New York winner settled for bronze.
Joyce Jepkurui won the senior women’s contest in 26:22.3 beating to second place Priscah Jeptoo (26:34.8), the Daegu Worlds marathon silver winner while third place went to Georgina Rono in 26:35.0.
World Youth gold winner, William Malel (20:03.2) led Japheth Korir (23:14.5) to the tape in the junior men’s 8km race. Olympics Youth titleholder, Gladys Chesire won the women’s 6km junior run in 20:10.7.
Veteran Kiptoo reclaims Forces crown
Having begun his career at the ripe ‘old age’ of 29 six years ago, Mark Kiptoo who turns 35 in June, simply does not know when to slow down as he completed a commanding victory in the men’s senior race at the Kenya Defence Forces Cross Country Championships in Lanet on Saturday.
Kiptoo ran 36:20 forcing William Chebon (36:25) and World Cross senior bronze winner Vincent Kiprop (36:32) to accept the lesser podium positions to reclaim the title he last won in 2010.
Last year’s champion, John Chepkwony (37:02) finished seventh.
In the women’s race, Daegu Worlds bronze winner, Sharon Cherop, edged out upcoming talent, the national 1,500m champion, Helen Obiri in a thrilling sprint finish where the clocks read 27:26 against 27:28 in favour of the winner.
Tanui tops Kipsang in Elgoibar
World Cross Country silver medallist Paul Tanui out-sprinted compatriot Geoffrey Kipsang for the men’s crown at the 69th Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza in Elgoibar, Spain.
The finish line was placed inside the track and it seemed for a while that the 19-year-old Kispang, the World Cross junior titleholder, would overtake Tanui over the closing 100m but the Japan based runner bravely held off the challenge to snatch a narrow win in 32:25 while Kipsang was given the same time.
Such was last lap’s frantic pace that Geoffrey Kirui (32:25), who completed a classy podium, finished 39 seconds adrift but himself 17 clear of fourth placed Humegaw Mesfin of Ethiopia.
World 10K record holder and three time winner at Elgoibar, Leonard Komon (33:68) was sixth but he however, confirmed he would try to break the world half record in Netherlands in March.
Former World Cross junior champion, Pauline Korikwiang was the highest placed Kenyan in the women’s race with a 22:49 performance for third in a race won by Ethiopia’s Wude Ayalew (22:29).