- The Washington Times - Monday, May 1, 2006

Kenyan runners continued their dominance at the Sallie Mae 10K yesterday through West and East Potomac parks on a delightful morning for running in Washington.

Years after race officials significantly modified their prize money structure — decreasing the compensation for the elite athletes in favor of more cash for masters and local runners — the Kenyan-born athletes who train on the East Coast still make this 23-year-old race their end-of-April fly-through.

Julius Kibet and Lineth Chepkurui won yesterday’s race, sealing their triumphs in the closing stage of the 6.2-mile, pancake-flat course. Both earned $500. Kibet, who is based out of West Chester, Pa., finished in 28:51. Chepkurui, based out of Chapel Hill, N.C., won in 33:02.

Reuben Chebii (West Chester), Benson Cheruiyot (Chapel Hill) and Joshua Kemei (West Chester) gave Kenya a sweep of the top four positions. They also took the seventh, eighth and ninth spots, spanning the ages from 19-year-old Jyncoel Basweti to 40-year-old Albert Okemwa.

The Kenyan women placed top-heavy but not so deep, with Eunice Chepkirui (West Chester) and Florence Jepkosgei (Chapel Hill) right behind runner-up Olga Romanova, an experienced Russian training in Germantown.

As close as the women’s race was, the top three men were separated by just two seconds. Kibet certainly was the man to watch, as a large pack ran a pedestrian 4:54 opening mile. Each mile went quicker than the previous one, with Kibet and Cheruiyot pressing at times. The pack of 10 at two miles whittled down to just four by the turnaround shortly after the 5K mark.

Moments later, it was down to three.

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