NAIROBI, August 19- Kenyans completed the perfect 10 sweeps of both the men and women races at the East Africa Military Games cross country championships to underline the country’s distance running supremacy in Uganda on Wednesday.
It was a show for things to come for the locals of the nation that will host the next edition of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 2017 as the Kenyans ran rings around the competition at Mayor’s Garden course in Jinja.
World junior 10,000m bronze medallist from 2010, Geoffrey Kirui, won the Holy Grail of the cross when he topped the senior men 12km race whilst Perine Nenkampi held on to her women 8km crown.
The Kenyan men quartet toyed with the opposition until the 6km mark when they turned the race into a procession and an internal contest for the medals with Kirui applying the best finish for the goal at the business end of the race.
He is in Kenya’s 10,000m team for the All Africa Games in Congo Brazaville next month and he says he will be working to land at the rostrum once again with the hue of the medal not a concern.
All through the race, Kirui was tucked between the experienced KDF cross champion, Kiplimo Kimutai and Stephen Arita who had taken the role of setting the pace.
Rwanda’s Felicien Muhitira started the showdown in blistering pace; keeping up with the Kenyans but after the second loop he had already tired and was soon cut off from the medals.
Arita, Kiplimo and Kirui pulled away from the leading pack with 4km to go and Kirui surged forward and deployed a devastating finishing kick over the final 500 to cut the tape in 35:48:76.
Kiplimo was second in 35:51:27, Arita third in 35:58:16 while Rueben Limaa completed the top four in a time of 36:20:20
On their part, the women uncorked a gun to tape dominant show to destroy the field with Nenkampi breasting the tape in 27:21.91 with Sela Jepleting taking silver in 27:29:50 as seasoned former World Cross fourth finisher, Doris Changeiywo bringing the rear of the podium in 27:29.74. Marion Kibor (27:29.95) was fourth to give Kenya the maximum score.
“Cross country is about team work and from the start of the race we had agreed to help each other until the final 500m when now everyone would go for herself. We did quite well and the results are visible, all the top four positions were won by us,” Nenkampi said after the race.
“I am happy to defend my title, the race today was better compared to last year in Zanzibar because we had a very good course and the sun was not as hot,” she added.
Having unsuccessfully failed to break into the Kenya team for Guiyang World Cross in March after finishing seventh at the National Trials in Uhuru Garden, Nenkampi turns her attention to launching a stab at next year’s Rio Olympics.
“I have not yet made a decision whether I should do 1500m or 5000m but I will consult with my coach and see what I can take but definitely I want to be at the Olympics. That is my next focus,” she added.