Record Holder Chepkoech, Rono Face Ugandan Might In Seville

Jan 18 - by IAAF for SportPesa News

The fifth and final last Spanish leg of the 2018/19 IAAF Cross Country Permit series goes down on Sunday with Kenyan runners up against it against their neighbours

Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech celebrates after her new world record in the women's 3000 metre steeplechase at the IAAF Diamond League athletics 'Herculis' meeting at The Stade Louis II Stadium in Monaco on July 20, 2018. Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech ran 8min 44.32sec to set a new 3000m steeplechase world record at the Diamond League meet in Monaco. PHOTO/AFP

  • The clash of Ugandan distance running stars Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo however, headlines the fifth and last Spanish leg of the 2018/19 IAAF Cross Country Permit series
  • Rono, a creditable seventh at the Kampala World Cross and recent winner in Venta de Banos on December 16, will also be in contention alongside Bahrain’s Albert Rop who is fresh from a victory in Amman on 5 January
  • Chepkoech, who came third in Elgoibar some 17 seconds behind Chesang, will arguably be the Ugandan’s fiercest opponent alongside Ethiopia’s Gete Alemayehu, the 20-year-old who won the Houilles 10km on 30 December in a massive lifetime best of 31:12

SEVILLE, Spain- World women steeplechase record holder, Beatrice Chepkoech and Vincent Rono lead Kenya’s hunt for glory at the ‘Cross Internacional de Itálica’ in Santiponce on the outskirts of Seville on Sunday.

The clash of Ugandan distance running stars Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo however, headlines the fifth and last Spanish leg of the 2018/19 IAAF Cross Country Permit series.

The pair is currently two of the world’s leading distance athletes - who would bet against a Ugandan win in the men’s race?

They clashed last year here, the victory going to Cheptegei on that occasion while Kiplimo finished runner-up barely a second behind so Sunday’s event will act as a rematch over the 9975m distance.

The 22-year-old Cheptegei looked destined for gold at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017 before fatigue set in during the closing stages, forcing him to settle for 30th place as Kenya’s Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor defended his crown after charging through the field. 

However, he bounced back that season by earning10000m silver at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 in a huge career best of 26:49.94 behind British distance running icon, Sir Mo Farah.

His 2018 accolades include a brilliant 5000/10000m double victory at the Commonwealth last April and more recently a world best over 15km with a stunning 41:05 performance at the Seven Hills Run in Nijmegen on 18 November.

As for Kiplimo, still just 18, he remains unbeaten this winter season having won all four of his appearances on Spanish soil: the Atapuerca, Soria and Alcobendas Cross Country permit races plus the New Year’s eve 10km race in Madrid when he clocked an impressive 26:41, albeit on an aided course. 

The two Ugandan aces should play a key role at World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark on March 30 and Sunday’s race will mark the season’s first round between the pair.

Mande Bushendich might well complete the podium in what would be a Ugandan clean sweep. The 21-year-old proved to be in top form in Madrid’s New Year’s Eve 10km with a 27:24 clocking to his name.

Rono, a creditable seventh at the Kampala World Cross and recent winner in Venta de Banos on December 16, will also be in contention alongside Bahrain’s Albert Rop who is fresh from a victory in Amman on 5 January.

Watch out too for Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali, the reigning world 3000m steeplechase silver medallist; the 23-year-old boasts an impressive 7:58:15 career best, which places him in the top-ten on the all-time lists. 

Compatriot Abdelaati Iguider, the 2012 world indoor champion and Olympic bronze medallist over 1500m will join him.

The Spanish contingent includes Toni Abadía and David Palacio, fourth and fifth respectively in Elgoibar last Sunday, Adel Mechaal plus the newly-minted European U-20 cross country silver medallist Ouassim Oumaiz.

Main favourite

Reigning Commonwealth 10,000m champion Stella Chesang fronts the corresponding women’s field. 

The 22-year-old Ugandan finished a fine second in Elgoibar last Sunday and should be regarded as one of the main favourites at this weekend’s 9135m event. 

Chepkoech, who came third in Elgoibar some 17 seconds behind Chesang, will arguably be the Ugandan’s fiercest opponent alongside Ethiopia’s Gete Alemayehu, the 20-year-old who won the Houilles 10km on 30 December in a massive lifetime best of 31:12.

Turkey’s Yasmine Can had a below-par performance in Elgoibar where she had to settle for a distant fourth but the triple European cross country champion should be eager to bounce back and be in the hunt for the podium places.

Spain’s Trihas Gebre, Uganda’s Esther Chebet and Kenya’s Hellen Ekarare Lobun will be aiming for a top-five finish. 

The Ethiopian-born Spaniard is fresh from a national 10km record of 31:39 in Valencia last Sunday while Chebet clocked 31:53 at Madrid’s New Year’s eve race where Gebre clocked 31:40. 

As for Lobun, she was a creditable fifth over 5000m at last summer’s World U20 Championships and boasts a 15:16:53 PB. The 19-year-old Kenyan will be making her first outing of the year.

Weather forecasters predict a pleasant sunny early afternoon on Sunday with temperatures of 16-18 C, some gusts of wind but no chance of rain.