In stark contrast to the conditions which will await the athletes at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017 on 26 March, Leonard Korir maintained his unbeaten start to 2017 at the USATF Cross Country Championships in Bend, Oregon on Saturday (4).
On a muddy and icy course surrounded by two feet of snow, Korir won the senior men’s 10km in 30:12 to defeat Stanley Kebenei by three seconds with Shadrack Kipchirchir, who ran in the 10,000m at the Olympic Games alongside Korir in Rio de Janeiro last summer, third in 30:19.
Korir opened his season with a narrow victory over Callum Hawkins at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country before defeating Olympic marathon silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa in another sprint finish in the Houston Half Marathon the following weekend. His third victory of the season guarantees him a spot on the team for Kampala where the Americans could challenge for another team medal four years after winning silver in Bydgoszcz.
In the women’s race, another Kenyan-born runner dominated proceedings with Aliphine Tuliamuk taking a gun-to-tape win in 34:24 ahead of Laura Thweatt (35:12) and London Marathon-bound Kellyn Taylor (35:37).
KASAIT STUNS KIPYEGON AT SOUTH RIFT CHAMPIONSHIPS
In just her second race in the senior ranks, former world U18 3000m champion Lilian Kasait handed reigning Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon a comprehensive defeat over 10km at the South Rift Cross Country Championships in Kaijado on Saturday.
Kasait, 19, ran out a comfortable winner over 10km in 32:42 with Kipyegon second in 33:10 while her older sister Beatrice Mutai rounded out the top three in 33:15.
Meanwhile, former world cross country champion Japheth Korir is returning to form with the Kenyan Cross Country Championships a fortnight away. He ran out victorious in the senior men’s 10km.
The Central Rift Cross Country Championships in Mosoriot on Saturday went to form with Viola Kibiwott defeating reigning IAAF world 3000m steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng in a close finish in the senior women’s 10km.
Kibiwott, who won U20 title at the World Cross Country Championships in 2001 and 2002, and Kiyeng shared an identical time of 34:51 with former world U20 3000m steeplechase champion Daisy Jepkemei third in 35:32.
Little-known Abraham Kiptum won the senior men’s 10km in 29:58 from Josphat Tanui in 30:10 while there were U20 wins for reigning world U18 3000m champion Richard Kimunyan and Jebet Ngetich in the men’s 8km and women’s 6km respectively.
Steven Mills (with assistance from Kip Evans) for the IAAF