Leonard Korir wins the US cross-country title (© Randy Miyazaki)
The senior men’s 10km at the US Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee, Florida, on Saturday (3) featured a loaded field including Olympic medallists Galen Rupp and Evan Jager, but reigning champion Leonard Korir still managed to retain his title.
Contesting his first cross-country race since 2011, Rupp seemed to be on course for a successful return to this terrain until the last 300 metres when Korir drew level off the final hill before unleashing an unanswerable finish.
Korir has been involved in more than a few close tussles in recent times – including in last September’s USATF 20km Championships in New Haven where Rupp had the beating of Korir by one second – but Korir turned the tables on the Olympic marathon bronze medallist, crossing the finish line in 29:17 to win by two seconds.
Rupp was using this race as part of his build-up to the Boston Marathon in April when he will be looking to improve on his runner-up finish from 12 months ago behind Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui.
Fifth in the 3000m steeplechase at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 last August, Stanley Kebenei fought off world bronze medallist Evan Jager – who was contesting his first cross-country race since high school 11 years ago – for third in 29:32 with Jager credited with the same time.
In the women’s race, 2015 world 10,000m bronze medallist Emily Infeld claimed her first domestic title on any surface in the senior 10km in 33:19, four seconds ahead of Molly Seidel. Stephanie Bruce rounded out the podium in third in 33:35 with world steeplechase silver medallist Courtney Frerichs a distant fourth in 33:56.
Kiplangat and Rutkowska share the individual titles in Mira
At the European Champion Clubs Cup Cross Country in Mira, Portugal on Sunday (4), Kenya’s Davis Kiplangat claimed the individual title in the senior men’s 10.335km, helping Sporting Clube de Portugal to the overall crown.
Kiplangat, who represented Kenya in the 5000m at the IAAF World Championships in London last August, moved to the front on the third small lap. He was pursued by Belgium’s Isaac Kimeli past the halfway point but Kiplangat cut loose on the second long lap of 2.065km, winning in 29:44, 18 seconds ahead of Kimeli.
Turkey’s Ramazar Ozdemir made up the podium in 30:14, nine seconds ahead of Spanish veteran Ayad Lamdassem.
There was a surprise in the senior women’s 6.26km as Poland’s Katarzyna Rutkowska, who was 31st at the European Cross Country Championships in December, defeated some established and experienced cross-country exponents for individual honours.
Rutkowska made a decisive break on the final circuit to win in 20:07 by one second ahead of Portugal’s Jessica Augusto, who was wearing the colours of Sporting Clube de Portugal, with Romania’s Ancuta Bobocel third in 20:10.
With five runners inside the first 10 – including Sara Moreira in fifth and Ines Monteiro in seventh – Sporting Clube de Portugal duly scooped the team prize.
There was a Kenyan double at the Cross Internacional Ciudad de Valladolid on Sunday with Gilbert Kwemoi beating out European 10,000m bronze medallist Antonio Abadia in the senior men’s 10.725km, 30:26 to 30:58, and Nancy Jesang ran out a comfortable winner in the senior women’s 8km in 28:20.
Runners book places at Kenyan Cross Country Championships
At the Nairobi Regional Cross Country Championships held at the Ngong Road Posta Grounds on Saturday (3), Pauline Njeri assured her place on the start line at next weekend’s Kenyan Cross Country Championships in Nairobi which serve as the selection race for the African Cross Country Championships in Chlef, Algeria on 17 March.
Njeri, who was fourth at the African Cross Country Championships back in 2011, won the senior women’s 10km in 32:31 comfortably ahead of Lucy Wambui (32:49).
In the senior men’s 10km, 24-year-old Hillary Maiyo claimed the victory in 28:05 ahead of Silas Kiptoo in 28:22.
At the North Rift Cross Country Championships in West Pokot on Saturday, Moses Kibet and Dorcas Kimeli sealed the senior 10km titles in 33:13 and 38:48 respectively but world U18 3000m bronze medallist Edward Zayako was the standout athlete.
Zakayo, who is a junior through until 2020, won the U20 8km in 25:44 and will begin as one of the favourites for the U20 title at next weekend’s domestic championships.
Steven Mills for the IAAF