Megan Keith leads the Cardiff Cross Challenge (© Paul Stillman)
Megan Keith secured a clear win while Keneth Kiprop prevailed after a sprint finish at the Cardiff Cross Challenge – a World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold event – on Saturday (11).
European U23 5000m champion Keith built on her fifth-place finish at the Cross Internacional de Atapuerca last month, beating a strong international field to win the 6.4km senior women's race by 17 seconds.
The 21-year-old, who started her year by finishing third at the CrossCup de Hannut and then raced for Great Britain at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, clocked 20:35 to win unchallenged on the muddy but relatively flat and winding course at Llandaff Fields.
Behind her, Ethiopia’s Likina Amebaw – who started as one of the leading contenders thanks to her Cross Country Tour Gold wins in Albufeira and Amorebieta this year – clocked 20:52 to secure the runner-up spot, seven seconds ahead of her compatriot Asmarech Anley.
Their fellow Ethiopian Meseret Yeshaneh, the world U20 steeplechase bronze medallist, was fourth a further three seconds back, while Britain’s Jessica Warner-Judd, who won in Cardiff in 2017, placed fifth.
“That was great fun. I’ve run here before, this is my third year now. Every year I love this course and I love coming here and running really hard so it was just another really good day out,” said Keith, who will be targeting a place for the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels next month.
“I love Cardiff as a box to check on my way to Liverpool (British trial race).”
While Keith opened a considerable advantage over her rivals, the senior men's race was much closer and the end of the 9.6km contest came down to a head-to-head battle.
Keneth Kiprop wins the Cardiff Cross Challenge (© Paul Stillman)
Uganda’s 18-year-old Kiprop, who was sixth in the U20 event at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, led for much of the race, establishing a lead in the opening stages and staying ahead until Kenya’s Vincent Mutai attacked.
Kiprop placed 15th in the road mile at the World Road Running Championships last month and he used some of that speed to respond to Mutai’s challenge, with the finish line in sight.
Mutai – who won the Cardiff Half Marathon in October – had been tracking Kiprop but as he tried to pass him in the closing stages, Kiprop kicked again and won in 28:32, three seconds ahead of Mutai.
Ethiopia’s Abele Bekele Alemu was third, half a minute behind them, with Britain’s Zak Mahamed fourth and Burundi’s Egide Ntakarutimana fifth.
“I enjoyed winning this race in Cardiff because it was my first time to run in Europe in cross country,” said Kiprop. “I thought that the sprint was going to win this race.”
1 Megan Keith (GBR) 20:35
2 Likina Amebaw (ETH) 20:52
3 Asmarech Anley (ETH) 20:59
4 Meseret Yeshaneh (ETH) 21:02
5 Jessica Warner-Judd (GBR) 21:29
1 Keneth Kiprop (UGA) 28:32
2 Vincent Mutai (KEN) 28:35
3 Abele Bekele Alemu (ETH) 29:06
4 Zak Mahamed (GBR) 29:19
5 Egide Ntakarutimana (BDI) 29:28