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Kenya Breaks Records in the Senior Men and Women’s Races at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017

Kenya’s Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor became the first man in 11 years to defend his world cross country crown. He won the senior men’s race in 28 minutes and 24seconds to become the first to win back-to-back races since 2006.

What made the victory more memorable is the fact that it was exactly a year to the day since he took the IAAF World Half Marathon title in Cardiff.

The Kenyan led the first lap with teammates Vicent Kipsang, Cheptegei, and Leonard close by. The four kept alternating the lead and all seemed to be going well for Uganda’s Cheptegei who during the third lap, made a leap and had a solid lead over the rest of the pack.

However, with just a lap to go, Cheptegei who seemed to be aiming at rallying the crowd with his reckless speed, slowed down for Kamworor to take advantage and reduce the 11-second lead to seven.

It was a matter of time before the Kenyan overtook the Ugandan and raced down to the finish line. Leonard came in second and Ethiopia’s Abadi Hadis came home third. Cheptegei finished 30th to the disappointment of the home crowd.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“When the Ugandan broke away, I kept my cool and ran my race. I knew he would get tired. His pace was too high and it would have been amazing if he had maintained it to the end.[/perfectpullquote]

“I was confident of retaining my title,” Kamworor said.

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Irene Chepet Cheptai. (Getty Images)

Kenya’s senior women team also made history after a top-six sweep. Irene Chepet Cheptai led the Kenyan women’s squad to an unprecedented top-six finish at World Cross.

The race started more conservatively with all the athletes close to each other but the Kenyans made their intentions known later on when they broke off with Aprot, Rengeruk, and Cheptai in the lead.

Ethiopia’s Sebere and Bahrain’s Olympic steeplechase champion Ruth Jebet were also in the leading pack.

The next lap saw the Kenyans gain for the top-six finish and as they entered the final lap, Kiyeng who had been trailing fellow Kenyans moved into fourth as Kipyegon also ensured she wasn’t far behind.

Tirop who dropped pace in the lap, was able to regain ground from Teferi.

Cheptai couldn’t help but smile as she made her move in the last minutes of the race. She was followed by Aprot (32:01) and Regeruk coming in third.

Kiyeng, Tirop, and Kipyegon finished fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively thereby sealing Kenya’s 12th senior women’s team title and fifth of the last six editions.



Featured photo: Getty Images

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