ELDORET, Kenya, Feb 23 – There was a change of guard in the National Cross Country Championship after two-time world Cross Country champion Geoffrey Kamworor and Stacy Ndiwa surrendered their respective men and women titles at a well attended championship that served as World Cross Trials at Eldoret Sports Club on Saturday.
Kamworor, who was a pre-race favourite, keeping it intact with the leading pack of five that had Amos Kirui, Evans Keitany, Rodgers Kwemoi and Richard Kimunyan, faded to fifth in a time of 30:03.9 to miss the automatic slot for the World Cross team to represent Kenya in the global championship slated for March 30 in Denmark.
However, in the final team of six, Athletics Kenya named Kamworor and Rhonex Kipruto to represent Kenya in the World Cross Country in Denmark.
Amos Kirui upset the two-time World Cross Country champion Kamworor, winning the race in 29:50.5 ahead of Keitany who came second, clocking 29:57.4, Kwemoi came fourth in 29:59.3 while Kimunyan took the last automatic slot after finishing fourth in 30:00.1.
Speaking after the race, Kirui, the former U20 champion said he was even amazed by his own performance as he only expected to make team and not becoming a national champion.
“It was a tough race, my aim was only to make the team but I outdid myself. My strategy was just to keep on running behind Kamworor and it worked, towards the last loop I realized he (Kamworor) was tired and took the advantage,” eletated Kirui said.
He added; “I will now embark on training to ensure I win my first gold medal for Kenya.”
-Obiri reigns supreme-
In the corresponding women’s race, Obiri underlined her hunger to win a maiden gold in the World Cross Country by destroying a deep field to take the title in 33:14.9.
She beat Beatrice Mutai who came second in a time of 33:24.3, Beatrice Chepkoech settled for third in 33:54.7 while Deborah Samum picked the last automatic slot after finishing fourth in 34:06.4.
World Cross bronze medallist Lilian Kasait finished sixth (34:14.3) while another big name former world steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng finished eighth.
Reigning World Record holder in women’s 3000m steeplechase did not make the top 10.
“I had prepared well for this race and its my hope that I will win the World Cross Country gold that is only missing in my cabinet after doing well in track,” Obiri stated.