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Kibiwott Kandie, the world half-marathon record holder played with the field at Nayo Stadium in Kenya on Saturday, before dropping everyone during the final lap for the win.
Kandie surged several times throughout the 25-lap race, his final surge was a sprint to the finish. It was his first race on the track since summer 2019.
Shadrack Kiphirchir who owns a best of 27:07.55 led five athletes into the final mile. Until then, Kandie was sitting back in the pack biding his time. Kandie, although owns a half-marathon best of 57:32, his 10,000m best is a comparatively pedestrian at 28:45.70. That didn’t matter, with confidence the 24-year-old ran to the front and battled Gilbert Kimunyan (pb: 28:49.50) for 800m. Kandie dropped the hammer over the final two laps to win in 28:28.0.
Kimunyan clocked a 28:37.70 and Peter Mwaniki took third in 28:39.70 all three ran new personal bests.
Kandie expects to toe-the-line at the Tokyo Olympic Games in the 10,000m.
The women’s 5000m race
Sheila Chelangat won the women’s 5000m. Chelangat ran alone during the final kilometre to finish in the time of 15:42.20. Jackline Rotich and Mary Nyaruai finished second and third in 15:49.60 and 15:50.20, respectively.
The 22-year-old Chelangat owns a more competitive personal best of 14:40.51 from September last year. All were well off their bests as Rotich has run as fast as 15:09.62 and Nyaruai 15:35.84, both from the same event two years ago.
The meet was the first Athletics Kenya track meet of 2021. As Kenyan athletes prepare to compete in races to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and the African Cross Country Championships taking place in Lorne, Togo in March. The championships were to be held in April 2020 and were postponed to March 2021. Regardless, athletes will need to be fit and if the meet is again postponed, they can race elsewhere.
The AK meet also included 400m and 100m sprints.