Pauline Korikwiang on her way to victory (© Elias Makori)
Pauline Korikwiang continued her comeback to top-level racing with a commanding victory at the fourth leg of the AK/KCB Cross Country Series in Iten on Saturday (5).
The 27-year-old has been largely absent from the international scene since 2012 owing to her son being born in 2013. But her comeback continued to gain momentum with victory in the senior women's 10km in Iten in 33:46, ahead of Naomi Chebet and Valary Jemeli, who were second and third in 34:04 and 34:46 respectively.
The former world junior cross-country champion is looking to recapture her best form next year.
Firstly, Korikwiang is aiming to make the Kenyan team for the African Cross Country Championships in Yaounde, Cameroon next spring before focusing on the 10,000m next summer, with a view to making the Olympic team. Following a junior career which included silver medals at the World Junior Championships and World Youth Championships, an appearance in Rio would be her first global championship on the track as a senior.
Fresh from his breakthrough season on the track which climaxed with a surprise call-up to the Kenyan team for the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015, where he contested the 5000m, Emmanuel Kipsang showed his cross country prowess by defeating the experienced international Hosea Macharinyang in the senior men’s 10km.
In a closer race than the women’s contest, Kipsang broke the tape in 29:55 to defeat Macharinyang – a winner of seven team titles at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships between 2004 and 2013 – by one second. Evans Kurui was third in 30:03.
“I wanted to win this race so that I may join the national trials next year ahead of the Africa cross country but as per now, I want to concentrate on the fifth meeting in Machakos,” Kipsang told local reporters, alluding to the next race of the AK/KCB series which takes place on 19 December.
Sandra Chebet claimed another win in the junior women’s 6km in 20:03 ahead of namesake Emily Chebet, who was second in 20:14, while 2012 world junior steeplechase champion Daisy Jepkemei was third in 20:26.
In-form Peter Kipserem won the junior men’s race 8km in 24:00 to follow up his win in Eldoret two weeks ago.
Local star Castillejo wins in Granollers
At the 30th edition of the Cross de la Constitucion in Aranda de Duero, Spain, on Saturday, Zimbabwe’s Olivia Chitate defeated local star Nuria Fernandez in the senior 6.105km. Chitate crossed the finish line in 26:39 to defeat the 2010 European 1500m champion Fernandez by four seconds.
The Spaniard gave birth to her third child earlier this year but, with an international career dating back to the mid-1990s, is aiming to make her fourth Olympic team next summer.
Incidentally, Fernandez will turn 40 on the day of the women’s 1500m final at the Rio Olympics.
At the other end of the age spectrum, Eritrea’s 17-year-old Aron Kifle won the senior men’s 9.985km in 27:45 by 15 seconds ahead of 2015 World Cross Country Championships eighth-place finisher Moses Kibet from Uganda.
Spain’s Roberto Alaiz completed the podium in third in 28:02.
There was a home win at the Cross Ciutat de Granollers on Sunday (6) where Carles Castillejo became the first Spanish winner of the men’s senior race since 2010.
The three-time Olympian, who hails from nearby Barcelona, was a popular winner when he won the 10km race by three seconds ahead of 20-year-old Michael Bett from Kenya, the pair clocking 31:28 to 31:31.
There was a Kenyan win in the women’s race courtesy of Vitalyne Jemaiyo in 29:48. She beat Morocco’s Salima Charki (29:57) and last year’s winner Marta Galimany (30:10) for the senior women’s 8km title.
At the Cross du Heron in Villeneuve d’Ascq in northern France, Kenya’s Charles Korir won the senior men’s 8.87km race in 28:59 coming home six seconds ahead of Jean-Pierre Mvuyekure from Burundi.
Algeria’s Ferahtia Hayet easily won the senior women’s 4.47km race ahead of French-based Madagascan Eliane Saholinirina.
Steven Mills for the IAAF