Women’s race

Faith Kipyegon and Charles Lokir won the Sirikwa Cross Country Classic at Lobo village on Saturday in Eldoret, Kenya.

Conditions were difficult for race with strong wind gusts which in the heat and at altitude made the dust that flew more unpleasant than usual.

Kipyegon demonstrated great fitness over the 10K course, taking out second place finisher Jackline Chepkoech, who had led early.

During the final lap, Kipyegon, created a big, 400m lead — it was a decisive win.

Kipyegon won by more than one minute clocking a 33:50 performance.

Chepkoech finished in second place in the time of 34:52. Zenah Jemutai Yego, finished third in 35:08.

“I am glad to be back. We shall go to the drawing board with my coach and see how we go towards the world record,” said Kipyegon, referring to the 1500m world record which is currently held by Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba at 3:50.07.

Kipyegon owns the second-fastest 1500m performance all time at 3:50.37 from August 2022, which she achieved during the Monaco Diamond League meet.

For nearly two decades, several Chinese performances dominated the global 1500m rankings by athletes who training with Ma Junren, in “Ma’s Army.” It was a program that was later found out to be heavily involved in doping. In 2015 and then 2022, Dibaba and Kipyegon leapfrogged ahead of the top two from Ma’s Army Qu Yunxia with her former world record of 3 3:50.46. and Jiang Bo with her clocking of 3:50.98 from Beijing 1993 and Shanghai 1997, respectively.

There are five more performance in the top-30 from the Junred-led athletic group. Yunxia at one point had sent a letter to a journalist admitting to doping. It was not published at the time. Junren was eventually fired. However, it is broadly assumed he wasn’t fired for doping his athletes, he was fired for being caught.

Kipyegon has seven more performances listed in the top-30. As a two-time defending Olympics and World Athletics Championships champion, she is considered the greatest 1500m runners in history, however, Dibaba’s world record is the final goal to make that complete.

Men’s race

The men’s race, featured quite a few new up-and-coming athletes.

After several lead changes throughout the race, Lokir surprised his competitors with a pointed move on the final uphill. Dropping the pace hard, he spread the field and kept up the effort until he crossed the finish line in the time of 30:14.

Josephat Kiprotich took second place in 30:19, while Dennis Kipngetich finished third in 30:21.

Lokir is a 10,000m specialist. He has his hopes pinned on representing Kenyan at the 2023 Budapest World Athletics Championships.

Lokir, age 22, has run the 5000m in the time of 13:29.93 and the 10,000m in 27:30.32. He will want to drop at least 22 seconds off of his 5000m time this spring or summer to qualify for the Budapest championships. He will need to run sub-13:07 and sub 27:10 in the 10,000m, and be top-three nationally and or at least world ranked in the top-27 (quota) for the 10,000m or top-42 in the 5000m or achieve a position through a series of other opportunities.

U20 races

The winner of the men’s U20, which is run over the 8K distance was Samuel Kibathi Wanjiru who easily won. He ran alone during the final lap, and crossed the line in the time of 24:20. Kelvin Kiprop finished second in the time of 24:40. Gideon Kipngetich took bronze in 24:45.

Lucy Nduta won the women’s race dropping her competitors with a few hundred metres remaining. Finishing in second place was Maurine Jepkoech. The two had been running neck-and-neck as the lead duo throughout the final lap. Nduta finished in 21:13, Jepkoech 21:14. Debora Jemutai grasped bronze with a strong 21:41 clocking.

If the name Samuel Kibathi Wanjiru sounds familiar, it should. Sammy Wanjiru was an international athlete as a teenager and went on to win the Beijing Olympic Marathon in audacious fashion at the time. He did so by dropping the field early and running for the win with reckless abandon in the heat. He also won the London and Chicago Marathons in 2009 and the 2010 edition of the Chicago Marathon. His personal best was 2:05:10 from London 2009. He died May 15, 2011 at age 24.

Both Lucy Nduta and Wanjiru are 17 years of age. Domestic wins for Kenya typically, are great proving grounds for the careers of up-and-coming juniors.