Africa Cross champ Rungaru stars in Nairobi meet
Africa Cross Country champion James Gitahi Rungaru and Rosemary Wanjiru romped to the senior men and women 10km honours at the Athletics Kenya (AK) Nairobi Cross Country meet on Saturday.
Wesley Landema and Winfred Mutile shared the men 8km and women 6km junior titles in the event held a week before the IAAF Permit AK/National Cross Country Championships where Kenya will select her team for the March 27 IAAF World Cross in Kampala, Uganda.
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Japan based Rungaru stopped the timer at 27:21 ahead of 2014 Africa Cross junior silver medallist Andrew Lorot who was left in his slipstream as he arrived home in 27:37 to lead the challengers home as Sammy Kirui (27:38) rounded the podium.
Rungaru took charge of the race in the second of the five laps with George Manangoi the younger brother to 1500 world silver medallist Elijah Managoi keeping close attention with Vincent Rotich a step back in third.
Two kilometres later at the flat Nairobi Posta Grounds course, Rungaru, who stunned the competition to win the African Cross title in Yaoundé, Cameroon last year, continued towing the field with Kirui coming into prominence as James Bett detached himself from the chasing pack to join the leaders.
At the bell, Lorot who won the nationals last year before bombing in Cameroon, made his move and motored up the field to place himself in a position to challenge for victory but Rungaru who had maintained a 20m gap engaged the gears to complete his crushing victory.
“The race was great since this was my first time competing in this course and I hope to book a place in Team Kenya for the World Cross. I shall have fully recovered by next weekend though I’m not used to running races back to back,” the winner said.
The senior women’s race had a low turnout as most of the athletes were saving up their energy for the Nationals that will run in Nairobi next Saturday (18).
Wanjiru, a silver medallist over 5000m at the 2015 All African Games, seized the opportunity to unfurl a gun-to-tape performance that crushed the thin field led by 2013 World Cross in Bydgoszcz, Poland fifth finisher, Margaret Wangare.
The victor timed 31:34 to leave the more experienced Wangare (32:27) in her shadows, arriving at the tape with a yawning gap of 250m.
“The race was not that competitive as I had expected, I hope there will be more competition at the Nationals. I hope to make an impression there,” Wanjiru stated.
Wesly Landema ran away with the men 8 km race by clocking 21:34 ahead of closest competitors Philip Rono (21:38) and Kiprono Sitonik (21:40) who took the minor podium places in that order.
Mutile completed the junior 6km course in 18:39 for top the honours after disposing off her biggest challenger Beatrice Chebet (18:57) over the last 500m as Abigail Chelanga settled for third in 19:01.
Senior 10 km
- James Rungaru 27:21
- Andrew Lorot 27:37
- Sammy Kirui 27:38
- James Bett 27:38
- Zablon Chumba 27:45
- Kanyonge Musa 27:52
- Rosemary Wanjiru 31:34
- Margret Wangare 32:27
- Jacinta Wanjohi 3255
- Pauline Eskon 32:59
- Njoki Ndungu 33:59
- Edna Mutai 34:33
8km junior men
- Wesley Landema 21:34
- Philip Rono 21:38
- Kiprono Sitonik 21:40
- Gilbert Mutai 21:48
- Geoffrey Kipkemoi 21:50
- Joseph Waweru 21:54
6km junior women
- Winfred Mutile 18:39
- Beatrice Chebet 18:57
- Abigail Chelanga 19:01
- Esther Muthoni 19:04
- Beatrice Cheburet 19:28
- Esther Chelimo 19:34