After successive runner-up finishes, Faith Kipyegon won her first race of the season in the sixth and final race of the 2014/15 AK/KCB Cross Country Series in Sitok over 8km on Saturday (3).
Kipyegon finished second to Sheila Chepngetich in Nyahururu and Brussels last month but the 20-year-old, who has missed some training due to a hamstring injury sustained in the off-season, looked back to her best form in the senior women’s race yesterday.
The Commonwealth 1500m champion waited until the final kilometre before hitting the front and when she did, Kipyegon opened up a commanding margin of almost 100 metres on the chasers.
“This is the year I want to graduate to senior ranks with victory at the World Cross Country Championships in China in March,” the two-time world junior cross-country champion told Daily Nation.
Kipyegon covered the 8km course in 27:30 to defeat African junior cross-country champion Agnes Tirop, 19, by 16 seconds with Caroline Kipkirui third.
Reigning two-time world cross-country champion Emily Chebet and world 5000m silver medallist Mercy Cherono finished fourth and seventh respectively and such was the depth in the women’s race, former Boston Marathon winner Caroline Kilel only finished 14th.
Chepngetich, who has been the in-form runner on the Kenyan cross-country circuit this winter, didn’t compete in Sitok.
The men’s 12km race might have been devoid of the well-known track exponents but Philip Langat looks ready to make an impact against top opposition at next month’s Kenyan Championships based on his form in the AK/KCB Series.
After triumphing in Nyahururu and Machakos before Christmas, Langat completed a hat-trick of victories, winning over 12km again in 37:04 over Philemon Rono (37:14) and Isaac Langat (37:18).
In the junior women’s race, world junior 3000m bronze medallist Valentine Mateiko upset pre-race favourite Sandra Chebet, while Julius Tanki notched up another win in the junior men’s race over Davis Kiplangat and John Langat.
Chepngetich (senior women), Langat (senior men), Chebet (junior women) and Tanki (junior men) currently lead the AK/KCB standings after the final race of the series before the culmination of the domestic season at the Kenyan Championships where runners can double their overall points.
The jackpot will be awarded to the winners of the series after the Kenyan Championships which take place in Nairobi on 14 February.
Toroitich edges Kipsiro in Amorebieta
Timothy Toroitich won his fourth race on Spanish soil this winter at the 69th Cross Internacional Zornotza in Amorebieta on Sunday (4), although compatriot Moses Kipsiro came within inches of ending Toroitich’s winning streak which stretches back to Soria on 23 November.
Despite the tantalisingly close climax to the 10.5km race, Toroitich was still credited with a one-second victory ahead of Kipsiro in 32:01 with two-time European cross-country champion Alemayehu Bezabeh finishing third on home soil in 32:17.
In mild and dry conditions, Toroitich became just the second Ugandan winner in Amorebieta after Boniface Kiprop won this race as a teenager some 11 years ago.
Further back, Mohamed Marhoum was a distant fourth in 32:43 with experienced Jesus Espana – who is targeting the 3000m at the European Indoor Championships in Prague – fifth in 33:19.
In the women’s senior race, Kenya’s Magdalene Masai easily defeated an all-Spanish field to secure her third victory on the bounce in Amorebieta.
The younger sister of former world 10,000m champion Linet who also won this race back in 2009, Magdalene won the 6.7km race in 23:36 ahead of Iris Fuentes-Pila (23:47) and veteran Jacqueline Martin (23:52).
Steven Mills (with assistance from Kip Evans) for the IAAF