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Kenyan distance masters unstoppable

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 19- Kenyan distance running aces left a trail of glory as they scorched the competition at various international competitions over the weekend.

On Sunday, the Africa Cross Country team that returns on Tuesday lined-up in Cape Town, South Africa for the second edition of the revamped continental event and duly trumped 20 other nations by winning six out of eight titles on offer.

World Cross junior titleholder, Faith Chepng’etich added the African crown in the women 6km race when she motored across the course in 19:32.0 with national champion, Joyce Chepkirui winning the women 8km gold in 27:04.0.

The Bydgoszcz World Cross junior silver winner, Clement Langat stepped up to the podium as the new Africa Cross senior 12km titleholder when he breezed to a 35:43.0 victory in the men’s long race.

Kenya won the team titles in the men senior, women senior and women junior races as archrivals Ethiopia who missed out last year taking home the junior men individual and team gold medals.

Elsewhere, Thomas Longosiwa and Priscah Jepleting Cherono minted a Kenyan sweep at the final IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting in Italy when they charged to the men and women titles at the Cinque Mulini event.

Kenya claimed the top four spots in the men’s race with Longosiwa first in 30:04, 12 seconds ahead of Bernard Rotich, second in 30:16, William Kibor, third in 30:26 and Solomon Kirwa Yego, fourth in 30:36.

Jepleting, World bronze medallist in the 5000m in Osaka 2007 and fourth in the 10,000m in Daegu 2011, beat Italian Elena Romagnolo by 16 seconds. Moroccan Btissam Lakouad finished third in 22:03.

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Still in Italy but over to the roads, Luka Lokobe Kanda and Hellen Kimutai secured a Kenyan double in the Rome Marathon on Sunday.

Kanda won the men’s event in 2:08.04 to finish ahead of compatriot Samson Kiprono Barmao. Ethiopia’s Demssew Abebe Tsega was third.

Kimutai finished in 2:31:11 to beat Ethiopian Ashete Dido Bekele with Marina Kovalyova of Russia taking third place.

In South Korea, rookie Wilson Loyanae Erupe ran to a surprise victory on Sunday in the Seoul marathon, clocking a personal best and setting a new course record.

The 24-year-old crossed the finishing line in 2:05:37, breaking the previous course record of 2:06:49 set by compatriot Sylvester Teimet in 2010.

Kenyan athletes dominated the men’s top five with James Kipsang Kwambai coming in second at 2:06:03, followed by three other compatriots.

Erupe made a spectacular international debut when he won South Korea’s Gyeongju marathon last October.

“There was little difficulty in the race. The whole course was easy,” Yonhap news agency quoted him as saying afterwards.

Ethiopia’s Tadese Feyse Boru won the women’s race by finishing in two hours 23 minutes 26 seconds, followed by compatriot Askale Tafa Magarsa, who clocked a time of two hours, 25 minutes and 29 seconds.

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The Big Apple was not spared the Kenyan onslaught as Peter Kirui, a fifth finisher in the 10,000m race at the Daegu Worlds won the New York Half Marathon after out-sprinting Ethiopia’s Deriba Merga.

Merga tried to put the race away with 600m to go only to be passed by Kirui, whose long strides grew even longer as he surged to victory in 59:39.

The time was just 15 seconds shy of the event record and the second-fastest men’s race in NYC Half history.

Ethiopia’s New York Marathon titleholder, Firehiwot Dado won the women’s race.

– Results sourced from AFP and IAAF website

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