NAIROBI, Kenya, January 27- London Marathon champion, Priscah Jeptoo and former World Half gold medallist, Wilson Kiprop, annihilated the opposition to claim victory in this year’s Discovery Kenya Cross Country Championship in Eldoret.
Jeptoo, who is preparing for her title defence in London on April 13, improved from her sixth place finish last year to reign against a spirited challenge from a horde of elite runners.
“Running home before my own people is something that excites me. It gives them a chance to see me in action unlike when in foreign countries where they can only follow me on television,” Jeptoo said.
“Winning here is a bonus. It was not the main aim for me to have entered the race but all in all it feels nice. It was a good race for me. I have intensified my preparations for London and I was using this to test my speed.”
“Of course there were many top runners in this race and you could see it went down to the wire. Sometime, marathon running requires good sprints and this race gave me just that. It gives me a nice feeling as I focus on the London marathon preparations where I hope I will be successful in retaining my title,” she added.
Jeptoo had to overcome the challenge of former Chicago runner-up Jemima Sumgong and Boston winner Rita Jeptoo Sitienei.
The winner prevailed over Sumgong, who holds a marathon personal best time of 2:20:48 to win the 8km senior women’s race in 19:58.8.
Rita Jeptoo, the winner here last year, could not hold the pace and was relegated to the third clocking 20:19.5 with Sumgong, the athlete she beat at the sprint in Chicago getting her revenge to take second place in 20:09.8.
Jeptoo, Sitienei and Sumgong will compete at the Prague, Barcelona and Lisbon half marathons lined up as part of their preparations ahead of the April marathon in London and Boston.
Japan based Bedan Karoki, who was a member of the Kenya team to the London Olympics in the 10,000m distance was expected to shine in the men’s event race, but failed the test as veteran Kiprop carried the day.
Kiprop used his wide strides to edge out Karoki in the sprint finish. He was credited with 28:39.9 with Karoki (29:00.1) coming second, an improvement from the 2013 performance where he was third.
“This is one of the tough races I have experienced recently. I knew Karoki had the chance of sprinting away from me. That is why I did not allow him to go. We kept on exchanging the position for the last five kilometres,” said Kiprop.
The 2012 Paris Marathon champion, Stanley Biwott (29:32.3) and Joseph Kitur (29:38.9) occupied the remaining top four positions.
Emmanuel Bett won the junior men 8km race in 23:51.7 while Lilian Kasait reigned in the 6km junior women race clocking 20:15.26.