Jacob Kiplimo on his way to winning in Soria (© Asociación ANOC)
Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo and Kenya’s Gloria Kite were commanding winners at the 25th Cross Internacional de Soria, the second leg of the 2018-19 IAAF Cross Country Permit series held in the outskirts of Soria on a cloudy but not especially cold Sunday (18).
In doing so, Kiplimo successfully defended his title and secured the sixth Ugandan men’s win in a row following in the footsteps of compatriots Dickson Huru (2013) and Timothy Toroitich (2014/15/16).
Spain’s Toni Abadía led during the early stages of the men’s 10km event with local star Daniel Mateo and the pool of favourites compounded by Kiplimo, Toroitich, Kenya’s Edward Zakayo, Eritrea’s Teklemariam Medhin and 19-year-old Spaniard Abdessamad Oukhelfen all close behind.
After the third kilometre, the 18-year-old Kiplimo took command and upped the pace, but the other runners in the pack were able to go with it.
About 18 minutes into the race, the podium seemed to be decided as Kiplimo, Toroitich and Zakayo opened a sizeable gap on Medhin and the rest of chasers. Proving that his win in Atapuerca last week was not fluke, Kiplimo, who was wearing a long-sleeve t-shirt, broke away with incredible ease at the bell.
With a magnificent display on the final lap, rising star Kiplimo gradually increased his lead over Zakayo to 22 seconds, himself another 12 seconds ahead of Toroitich in his fifth consecutive podium finish in Soria.
“I’m satisfied I could retain my title here,” said Kiplimo. “I enjoyed the circuit and I feel very comfortable in Soria, the organisers and the crowd treat me very well. Today I preferred to be in the main group and only unleash my attack in the final part as Zakayo and Toroitich were tough rivals. I’ll do some additional races in the following weeks but then I’ll return to my country as I have to prepare for the World Cross Country Championships in March.”
Kite flies to victory
In the women’s 8km event, 19-year-old Kite ran alone and had already built up a lead within the opening kilometre. Following Sweden’s Meraf Bahta’s last-minute withdrawal, Denmark’s Anna Emilie Moller led the chasing pack but, to the surprise of everyone, Kite made a mistake in counting her laps. The Kenyan lost her advantage and was reeled in by her pursuers, led by Moller and Italy’s Valeria Roffino.
Perhaps still scared after her mistake, Kite didn’t try to pull away again over the following kilometres and just ran alongside Moller and Spain’s Azucena Díaz. When the Kenyan finally made her decisive move on the last lap, she didn’t face any opposition from her closest chaser Moller, whom she beat by seven seconds.
A come-from-behind Elena Loyo of Spain managed to take third place after a thrilling sprint finish with Roffino, both athletes being given the same time, 24 seconds adrift the winner.
Loyo, who has a marathon PB of 2:33:20, is coached by 1995 world marathon champion Martín Fiz and only took up athletics at the late age of 27.
“I kicked off quite fast, then I took a wrong turn and realised I still had a few kilometres ahead of me so I preferred to run with the pack until the last lap,” said Kite. “I knew the Danish Moller might be a dangerous rival so I pushed hard to get rid of her before the closing stages and I managed.”
“I’d heard good things about this race and today’s experience confirmed all of that,” said Moller, the European U23 steeplechase champion. “I hope to come back next year and hopefully win.”
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF
1 Jacob Kiplimo (UGA) 30:11
2 Edward Zakayo (KEN) 30:33
3 Timothy Toroitich (UGA) 30:45
4 Teklemariam Medhin (ERI) 30:58
5 Abdessamad Oukhelfen (ESP) 31:02
6 Toni Abadía (ESP) 31:06
7 Juan Antonio Pérez (ESP) 31:07
8 Javier Guerra (ESP) 31:10
9 Fernando Carro (ESP) 31:27
10 Daniel Mateo (ESP) 31:32
1 Gloria Kite (KEN) 28:47
2 Anna Emilie Moller (DEN) 28:55
3 Elena Loyo (ESP) 29:11
4 Valeria Roffino (ITA) 29:11
5 María José Pérez (ESP) 29:13
6 Zulema Fuentes-Pila (ESP) 29:14
7 Nuria Lugueros (ESP) 29:16
8 Azucena Díaz (ESP) 29:17
9 Marta Pérez (ESP) 29:18
10 Marta García (ESP) 29:22