News25 Mar 2007

Kiplagat ends cross country career at the very top


Rampant victory! Lornah Kiplagat wins the women's senior race in style (© Getty Images)

Holland’s Lornah Kiplagat yesterday added another IAAF accolade to her World Road Running Championships victory last October stunning her fans - in both Europe and Africa - after an emphatic victory in the women's eight kilometres race at the 35th IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Mombasa, Kenya, which earned her a prize of US$30,000.

It was a glorious success for the Kenyan-born star on home soil, but sadly the victory saw the announcement she doesn't in the future plan attempting to retain or regain her title.

"This is my last my last cross country race," insisted the 32-year-old Dutch star, who switched allegiance to the European nation after marrying husband and Coach Pieter Langerhorst.

"I'm shifting my focus to road racing and the marathon," her next major target being the Flora London Marathon on 22 April.

Kiplagat, runner-up last year behind Tirunesh Dibaba before her brilliant reversal of the 2006 placings with a runaway victory yesterday at Mombasa Golf Club, is still coming to terms with the success.

She said after only her third appearance in the world's premier cross country championships: "This was a bit of a surprise to me, because I expected the Ethiopians to be strong and use their numerical advantage to outpace me."

Kiplagat will now return to the training camp she built at an estimated cost of $US200,000 dollars at Iten in the Rift Valley, to continue her preparations for London.

The vast majority of the hard work has already been done, with her deliberately mixing a training schedule for both cross country and road racing terrains during the last six months.

"We have been there for many months, only leaving Kenya when Lornah went to Costa Rica to defend her 10 kilometres title in San Juan," said husband Pieter.

There just a few weeks ago, Kiplagat gave early indication of her shape when trouncing Dibaba's fellow Ethiopian Meseret Defar, the Olympic 5000 metres champion, wilting alongside many other highly experienced stars.

The major aim now is to sharpen up for London, acknowledged as the world's greatest marathon and certainly Saturday's display of front running, deeply impressed David Bedford.
Bedford the race director and also a member of the IAAF's cross country running commission, couldn't hide his delight at the way Kiplagat ripped out the hearts the challenges from her mainly Ethiopian rivals.

"Isn't this great - I reckon she's 26 seconds ahead," said Bedford as Kiplagat entered the last lap of her four circuit race. "This is good news for London."

Now Kiplagat, the 2005 European Cross Country champion, has decided to continue a money spinning career on the global road running circuit - and no one doubts it will continue to be lined with gold.

Last October's inaugural IAAF World Road Running champion in Debrecen where she regained her world 20K road running record from Paula Radcliffe - Saturday's win was also the first European victory since the Britain's success in 2002 - indicates her prowess.

But now she has to continue that consistency - despite having in the past won twice in Los Angeles and in Osaka and Rotterdam, over double the distance.

But the signs are looking good. The husband-manager-coach relationship, just as it does with Radcliffe and her better half Gary Lough, has produced a very self-confident individual, capable of much greater success of 26miles 385yards.

Certainly Kiplagat can expected to be feted much differently when arriving in the British capital in a month's time - 10 years ago when still a novice, she was employed as a pacemaker.

Dave Martin – PA International – for the IAAF

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