It was a tight race that threatened to end Kenya's dominance in the regional cross country, but only just.
Africa Cross Country Championships
Senior men 12km
1 James Rungaru (KEN) 26:34
2 Philip Kipyeko (UGA) 26:35
3 Charles Yosei (KEN) 26:46
8 Abdallah Mande (UGA) 27:15
9 Daniel Rotich (UGA) 27:38
11 Thomas Ayeko (UGA) 27:55
Philip Kipyeko was beaten to his first international gold medal by a slice of a second as he settled for second place at the Africa Cross Country Championships that concluded on Saturday in the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé.
The two-time national cross country senior men champion also managed to lead Uganda to a team silver medal at the biennial continent al event, whose last edition was hosted by Uganda two years ago.
It was a tight race that threatened to end Kenya's dominance in the regional cross country, but though it came so near, it was so far as the final sprint saw him lose the gold by less than a pace.
Kipyeko sent early warning signals that with good training, Uganda will be a dominant force at next year's World Cross Country Championships that will be hosted at Kololo ceremonial grounds in Kampala on March 26.
Opening up the fight, Kipyeko with other Ugandan teammates, did as instructed by their coach Benjamin Njia, to run as a group and encourage each other until late in the race as they had to fight to shovel off the Kenyan dominance.
They did that until the last two of the six-lap race when the Kenyans started to break off.
That is when Kipyeko decided to tear away from the group that was already in a potential position for a medal and decided to race with a field of five Kenyans and three Ethiopians.
However, towards the last lap, they started falling off as the pace became tough and with 2km to go, it was Kipyeko in a field of three Kenyans looking for a podium finish in the individual category.
They started exchanging positions to wear him out but he seemed to have seen the trick as it is the Kenyans who fell off and with the final kilometer, he was assured of a medal and as they sprinted towards the home stretch, it was either gold or silver.
But the sprint was too tough as Kenyan James Rungaru with his longer strides managed to outpace him to the tape in less than a second.
"We were beaten to a gold medal. It was a good race and Kipyeko ran very well,” said Coach Njia.
“We were unlucky but it’s good that we managed to win a team silver and individual silver. We have now to go back to the drawing board and see that we even train harder ahead of the World Cross Country event,” he added.
Other Ugandan runners failed the Kenyan challenge, with Stella Chesang finishing 10th in the senior women while Janat Chemusto (14) and Mande Bushendich (11) also making a fair finish in the respective junior women and men events.
Junior men 8km
1 Isaac Kipsang (KEN) 21:33
2 Ronald Kiprotich (KEN) 21:44
3 Aron Kipley (ERI) 21:48
11 Mande Bushendich (UGA) 22:41
Junior women 6km
1 Miriam Cherop (KEN) 18:31
2 Gloria Kite (KEN) 18:39
3 Wilfred Mbithe (KEN) 18:40
14 Janat Chemusto (UGA) 20:44
Senior Women 8km
1 Aprot Naworirana (KEN) 29:52
2 Sheila Chepkurui (KEN) 30:44
3 Beatrice Mutai (KEN) 31:08
10 Stella Chesang (UGA) 32:42