Beatrice Chebet wins in Atapuerca (© Ricardo Ordóñez)
World cross-country champions Beatrice Chebet and Jacob Kiplimo achieved commanding wins at the Cross Internacional de Atapuerca, the second Gold standard meeting in this season's World Athletics Cross Country Tour, on Sunday (29).
With the races held under tough weather conditions – with gusts of wind of up to 45kph and rain – the two favourites lived up to expectations. Kenya's world 5000m bronze medallist Chebet retained her title, while Uganda's world half marathon record-holder Kiplimo also achieved his second Atapuerca win following his triumph in 2018.
Right from the start of the women's 8km contest, Chebet took command with fellow Kenyans Edinah Jebitok and Lucy Mawia for company. The latter soon lost ground and was caught by Uganda's Sarah Chelangat by the end of the opening kilometre. Shortly after the first 2km lap, covered in 6:06, leading duo Chebet and Jebitok slowed down slightly and were joined by Chelangat. Ethiopia's Likina Amebaw, winner in Amorebieta last weekend, had started conservatively but also worked her way into the leading group with the clock reading 9:35.
Following a second lap of 6:11, the lead quartet was 12 seconds ahead of Mawia, herself well clear of Spain's Majida Maayouf and British steeplechase specialist Aimee Pratt and her compatriot Megan Keith, the European U23 5000m champion.
The key movement came about half a kilometre before the bell when Chebet effortlessly broke away from her opponents and began to build a sizeable advantage in just a few strides. At the beginning of the closing 2km circuit, Chebet led by three seconds from Amebaw, herself another three seconds ahead of Chelangat while Jebitok was eight seconds behind Chebet in fourth.
Chebet extended her lead throughout the last lap while Amebaw started to struggle and was soon overtaken by Chelangat and Jebitok. Chebet crossed the line 15 seconds clear of Chelangat, while Jebitok completed a quality podium another eight seconds in arrears but well ahead of a fading Amebaw. Further back, the fast-finishing Keith overtook Mawia on the final lap to cross the finish line in fifth.
Chebet expressed her satisfaction having managed back-to-back titles in Atapuerca and confirmed her next appearance will be in Seville for the 'Cross internacional de Itálica' on 12 November.
Kiplimo destroys opposition
Kenya's world U20 1500m record-holder Ronald Kwemoi was the early leader of the men’s 9km race. The 28-year-old was followed by Spain’s world steeplechase finalist Daniel Arce in the early stages and they built a 40-metre lead over Kiplimo, who calmly led the chase pack.
With 5:30 on the clock, Kiplimo had reeled in the Spaniard and then caught Kwemoi after the third kilometre. Kiplimo – who was racing for the first time since before the World Championships, which he was forced to miss through injury – positioned himself on Kwemoi's shoulder as the cadence slowed.
Eritrea's Merhawi Mebrahtu took advantage of the slower pace and joined the leaders, but following a 5:55 clocking for the second lap, the world U20 5000n silver medallist began to lose ground and he was soon overtaken by Burundi's Rodrigue Kwizera, last year's World Athlerics Cross Country Tour victor.
Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Kiplimo increased his pace half way through the penultimate lap, which he covered in 5:40, and immediately opened up a gap on his rivals. At the bell, the 22-year-old had a lead of 13 seconds ahead of Kwemoi and Kwizera. The Burundian desperately tried to get rid of Kwemoi on the final lap to avoid a sprint finish but the Kenyan managed to remain tucked behind him.
With a last lap of 5:38, Kiplimo extended his lead and eventually won by 15 seconds. In a thrilling sprint finish, Kwemoi got the better of Kwizera while Celestin Ndikumana, the Amorebieta victor last weekend, finished fourth in a tight finish with Uganda's Leonard Chemutai and Israel's Tadesse Getahon.
Kiplimo confirmed his next outing will be at the 7 Hills Run in Nijmegen on 19 November.
Emeterio Valiente for World Athletics
1 Beatrice Chebet (KEN) 25:21
2 Sarah Chelangat (UGA) 25:36
3 Edinah Jebitok (KEN) 25:44
4 Likina Amebaw (ETH) 26:06
5 Megan Keith (GBR) 26:39
6 Lucy Mawia (KEN) 26:54
7 Majida Maayouf (ESP) 27:07
8 Lemlem Nibret (ESP) 27:13
9 Ikram Ouaziz (MOR) 27:45
10 Marta García (ESP) 28:05
1 Jacob Kiplimo (UGA) 26:00
2 Ronald Kwemoi (KEN) 26:15
3 Rodrigue Kwizera (BUR) 26:16
4 Celestin Ndikumana (BUR) 26:47
5 Leonard Chemutai (UGA) 26:48
6 Tadesse Getahon (ISR) 26:48
7 Nassim Hassaous (ESP) 27:00
8 Abdessadam Oukhelfen (ESP) 27:06
9 Merhawi Mebrahtu (ERI) 27:08
10 Sergio Paniagua (ESP) 27:17