Ethiopian distance runner Alemitu Hawi (© Organisers)
Vincent Rono continued to impress in the build-up to the Kenyan Cross Country Championships with a hard-fought win over a distinguished field at the Kenya Prisons Services Cross Country Championships at the Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi on Saturday (23).
Rono might be better known as a pacemaker on the commercial circuit but the 25-year-old is showing the form to challenge for a maiden place on the Kenyan team for the African Cross Country Championships in Yaounde, Cameroon in March.
Fresh from claiming victory at the final leg of the AK/KCB series in Sotik a fortnight ago, Rono notched up another win in heavy conditions over 10km in 30:11. He defeated Julius Kogo by two seconds with 1500m specialist Cornelius Kangogo third.
“The wet course made things a bit difficult but my good endurance and consistent pace carried the day,” said Rono, who boasts a half marathon lifetime best of 1:00:52.
Last year’s winner Philip Langat, who made the Kenyan team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Guiyang 2015, had a performance to forget. He finished outside the top 20 while sub-3:30 1500m performer Silas Kiplagat was a notable non-finisher.
The women’s race was lacking in well-known internationals but Japanese-based Pauline Kamulu won the 10km in 34:36 by one second ahead of Nancy Nzisa (34:37) and Eunice Kioko (34:58).
The second half of the county championships also took place across Kenya on Saturday. They acted as the qualifying races for next weekend’s regional championships. From there, the top six runners from each region will represent their province at the national championships on 13 February.
The most noteworthy performances came at the Kericho County Championships where Pamela Cherotich upstaged 2011 Boston Marathon champion Caroline Kilel with a convincing 39-second victory in 36:44, while Geoffrey Koech won the men’s senior race in 30:25.
World youth 3000m silver medallist Davis Kiplangat won the junior men’s 8km in 24:22 while Eva Cherono easily won the junior women’s 6km ahead of world youth 1500m finalist Ivine Chepkemoi in 21:21.
The Kenya Defence Forces Cross Country Championships were scheduled to take place on Friday but the event was cancelled in respect of the 60 Kenyan soldiers who were recently killed in Somalia.
Hawi graduates to the senior ranks with victory in Rovereto
African youngsters largely dominated proceedings at the 39th edition of the Cross Internazionale Della Vallagarina on Sunday (24).
Staged on an undulating looped course in the valleys just outside Rovereto, world junior 5000m silver medallist Alemitu Hawi from Ethiopia won the senior women’s race by a commanding distance in 21:36 ahead of former winner Silvia La Barbera (22:00) and Ugandan teenager Mercyline Chelangat (22:02).
In the men’s race, little-known Kenyan Rodgers Maiyo defeated world junior cross-country silver medallist Geoffrey Korir by two seconds in 26:40 with Ugandan youngsters Victor Kiplangat and Jacob Kiplimo sharing an identical time of 26:54 in third and fourth respectively.
Kiplangat and Kiplimo will both be eligible for the junior race on home soil at next year’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala. The latter will also be eligible for the junior race in 2019.
At the CrossCup de la Province de Liege in Hannut on Sunday, 2011 world 3000m steeplechase finalist Birtukan Fente Alemu from Ethiopia prevailed in the women’s 5.2km in 18:52 ahead of European under-23 cross-country champion Louise Carton (18:59) and veteran Veerle Dejaeghere (19:05).
Dame Tasame scored his second win in as many weekends as the Belgian-based Ethiopian followed his win in Kerkrade with another triumph over 8.8km in Hannut in 28:27 ahead of Kenya’s David Bett (28:32) and Ethiopian youngster Teshome Shumi (28:32).
At the Cardiff Cross Challenge on Sunday, Caryl Muir returned from four years of persistent injuries to win the senior women’s race in 26:52 while fellow British international Dewi Griffiths won the men’s event in 35:28.
Steven Mills (with assistance from Kip Evans) for the IAAF