Eighteen year-old Kathui Muiya clocked 32:55.08 to win the 12km senior men’s race in the opening leg of National Cross-Country circuit at Nairobi’s Posta Grounds on Sarurday.
Muiya who is currently sitting the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations at Dumbi Secondary School in Makueni was crowned minutes after Form Three student Sheila Chepng’etich won the 8km senior women’s race in style at the same venue.
Chepng’etich, who is the World Junior women cross-country bronze medallist oozed class in a race that also had steeplechaser Nancy Nzisa running barefoot, chasing glory. She made clear her intentions in the second lap, pulling clear of eventual second-place finisher Miriam Muriuki with Nzisa trailing close by.
At the 6km mark, Chepng’etich widened the gap leaving no doubt about her commitment. She held on with strong strides to win the race in 24:08.26, 21 seconds ahead of Muriuki who also held a 10-second gap between her and Nzisa.
If Chepng’etich’s win was obvious from the half-way point, Muiya’s was a stark contrast as he came from oblivion to pip seasoned road racer Franklin Ngelel and the enterprising John Elimlim in the last lap.
Little-known Elimlim had elicited anxiety after creating a 100m gap between him and the chasing pack as the more than 120 senior men’s cast launched into the third lap.
Ngelel closed the gap inch by inch, later overtaking him with 4km left. Muiya had stayed a distant third and remained so until the last lap when he leveled with Ngelel and finally piping him to the top prize.
Elimlim opened his lungs wider to claim second place ahead of the flailing Ngelel.
Jackline Chepkoech had earlier won the 6km junior women race by two seconds, beating Betty Chepkemoi and Victoria Mwikali who finished second and third respectively. Chepkoech timed 18:23.33 to claim honours ahead of Chepkemoi’s 18:25.61. The Junior men’s race went to Julius Kiplangat.