Elgeyo Marakwet’s Grace Loibach edged a closely contested race to take top honors at the 3rd Athletes Kenya (AK) Cross Country Build up series held at Sotik Club’s 181 grounds in Bomet County over the weekend.
The race sponsored by AK featured 6km U20 for women and men, 10km race senior women and senior men categories and mixed relay competitions.
Loibach clocked 30:50.8 to clinch top spot ahead of Agnes Chebet who crossed the line in second in 31:03.3 and Edina Jebitok coming in third in 31:14.5 in the 10km women race with 71 contestants.
The 18-year-old upcoming athlete earlier showed her intentions of making it to the next level with the possibility of competing in the nationals and the World Cross Country Competitions after coming in second in the Betika Kericho County Cross Country meet held at Kericho Teachers Training (KTTC) grounds on 23 October this year.
“The race was competitive and the terrain was tough and I worked hard for this win. I am training hard to make it to join the team for the World Cross Country. This is my second competition in my running career after having clinched second position on 23 October in the Betika Kericho County Cross Country meet held at Kericho Teachers Training (KTTC) grounds,” said Loibach.
The race will set stage to select a team for the World Cross Country set to take place in Bathurst, Australia in February next year.
Seasoned athletes who featured in the race failed to sparkle with the likes of 2016 Africa Junior Women Cross Country Champion Miriam Cherop clocking 32:02.4 and emerging position eight while 2014 Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion Mercy Cherono finished in tenth in 32:07.6. 2017 International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World U18 champion Carren Chebet clocked 33:50.02 and took position 30.
Chebet brought home a bronze medal in the 2022 Africa Senior championships held in Reduit Mauritius where she emerged third in the 3000m steeplechase race.
Prominent and upcoming athletes from West Pokot, Kericho, Nakuru, Kajiado, Nandi, Kisii, Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu, Baringo, Bomet, Nyamira, Nyahururu, Keringet and Nyanza featured in the 10km women and men races, 6km U20 women and 8km U20 men and mixed relay competition which included the reigning 800m 2022 Commonwealth Games champion Mary Moraa and three time 1,500m World Champion Asbel Kiprop Ruto.
In the men’s 10km race Edwin Bett grabbed the number one slot with a personal best time of 27:21.0, Daniel Simiu finished second in 27: 22.3 minutes while and Reuben Longosiwa came in third in 27:37.4
Bett, 25, from Kericho who clinched third position in the 10km race on 23 October in the 1st Betika Kericho County Cross Country meet held at Kericho Teachers Training (KTTC) grounds said he was pleased with his performance as he had trained well and was positive of earning a slot in the World Cross Championships team.
“The weather was hot but I am in top shape and my target is to join the team for World Cross Country Games set for February next year,” said Bett.
2022 World U20 women’s 3,000m champion Betty Chelangat won the 6km women U20 race with upcoming athlete Shadrack Rono clinching first position in the 8km men U20.
The 4x400m Nakuru team shined their way to win the mixed relay race in 21:54.8 minutes.
Miriam Chepkirui, Dan Koseni, Joyline Cherotich and Daniel Kinyanjui impressed the cheering crowds as they breezed past their competitors to clinch the number one slot.
AK President Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei who graced the event said they aim at selecting a strong team to represent Kenya for the World Cross County competition slated for next year in Australia.
“Our championships are very clear because it is an individual event so whoever wins, wins in daylight like today. So there is no manipulation, no cheating or anything like that. We will select according to their performances and we would like to select a strong team to go and represent our country in Australia,” he said.
Also in attendance was the AK Senior Vice President Paul Mutwi, AK South Rift Chairman John Wachira, AK Executive Committee Member Benjamin Njoka, Bomet CEC Education, Youth, Sports and Vocational training Agnes Ngeno and other officials.
By Sarah Njagi