Eliud Kipchogo has won the long distance event at the Kenyan Cross Country Championships in convincing style. A month before the World Cross Country Championships in St. Etienne (France) Kipchoge sent a warning to Kenenisa Bekele. The Ethiopian has won the world titles during the last three years. But now the Kenyans think it is time to end the reign.
Kipchoge, who had won the gold medal at 5,000 m at the World Championships in Paris in 2003, won the national title in the 12 k race in a time of 34:50 minutes. Moses Mosop was second in 34:59, John C. Korir took third place (35:22). Kipchoge then said that the Kenyans will try to beat Bekele with good teamwork and clever tactics. The short distance of 4 k was won by Isaac Songok with a time of 10:50 minutes. Sammy Kipketer came second (10:53) and Brimin Kipruto was third (10:54). Another prominent runner, Abraham Chebii, who has beaten Bekele already at 5,000 metres, was fourth (10:56).
The women’s long distance event saw a surprise win of Rose Chepyego Chepchumba. She finished the 8 k race in 26:30 and was three seconds faster than Catherine Kirui. Susan Chepkemei was third in 26:35. Winner of the short race of 4 k was Prisca Jepleting. There was bad luck for Edith Masai. The three time World Cross Country Champion twisted her ankle before tha race and could not participate. She was still nominated for the World Championships by her federation but has to pass a fitness test before.
Meanwhile Sergej Lebed (Ukraine) won another cross country race. The five time European Cross Country Champion clocked 36:10 minutes for a 12 k distance at the Campaccio Cross Country in Italy. Lebed prevented Italian marathon star Stefano Baldini from winning at home. Baldini was second in 36:28. Lebed should be able to do well at the World Cross Country Championships as well.
The traditional Tokyo Marathon produced a convincing win by Toshinari Takaoka. In cool weather the Japanese ran a strong time of 2:07:41. It was his first win in five marathon races and a personal best as well. He had taken the lead at 24 k. Zebedayo Bayo (Tanzania) was more than three minutes behind, finishing second in 2:10:51. Third was Wladimir Tsiamchik (Belarus) in 2:14:24. Takaoka has qualified for the World Championships in Helsinki in August.