The endurance specialists were pursued by an enthusiastic motorcade of support staff and onlookers and cheered into the finish by world champion, Joshua Cheptegei.
Race organisers were forced to make a last minute course change due to torrential overnight rain and ongoing road construction works on the provisional route up to the High Altitude Training Centre in Teryet. This meant that the final route was not able to be confirmed until race day morning.
It was decided that athletes would be transported approximately 20km down the slopes of Mount Elgon from Kapchorwa Town and race 10km back on the main tarmac road up to Sipi, home of the famous waterfalls. This provided a slightly friendlier running terrain than anticipated but nevertheless a challenging course with 1739ft/530m of climbing. Almost 100m of elevation gain for every kilometre raced.
Ugandan Mountain Running Championship: Course elevation profile courtesy of US Mountain Runner Najim Mahmoud
After a relatively conservative start, at around the 4km mark, a significant breakaway occurs. As the leading group approach the steepest climb of the day, Andrew Kwemoi (Arua) and Joel Ayeko (Prisons) inject some pace and edge clear of the pursuing group. This development causes the field to string out and quickly creates a significant gap between the front two and the rest of the athletes.
As the terrain begins to bite on the climb, Kwemoi decides to make a big move and leaves Ayeko trailing in his wake, taking a lead that would not be cut. Kwemoi dominates the remainder of the race and cruises the final climb into Sipi to win the national championship by a 21 second margin. His finishing time of 35.33 means that he managed an average pace of 3.33km/5.42 mile pace on a constant climb.
In the women's race Rebecca Chelangat continued her rise with a landmark victory over Annet Chelangat in a time of 44:37.
Andrew Kwemoi and Joel Ayeko begin to stretch the field as they apply pressure at the front of the race
Men's race - final result
Andrew Kwemoi 35:33
Joel Ayeko 35:54
Fred Musobo 36:13
Women's race - final result
Rebecca Chelangat 44:37
Annet Chelangat 44:47
Rispa Cherop 45:54
Andrew Kwemoi, moments after securing victory at the 2020 Ugandan Mountain Running Championship