World cross country champion Beatrice Chebet from Kenya and world cross country silver medallist Berihu Aregawi from Ethiopia won the Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza in Elgoibar, a World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold.
Chebet took the lead from the early stages of the women’s 7.62 km race on a rainy day. The Kenyan athlete covered the first lap on the track in 1:19. 2021 Elgoibar winner Edinah Jebitok and Grace Nawowuna from Kenya and Asmarech Anley from Ethiopia were the only athletes, who managed to keep up pace with Chebet. Lauren Hall, Sarah Astin and Niamh Brown followed three seconds behind in the chasing group.
Chebet ran the first two kilometres in 3:19 and 3:21 on a muddy course. A Kenyan trio formed by Chebet, Nawowuna and Jebitok remained in the lead, as Anley fell behind. Chebet sped up and covered the penultimate lap in 7:02. Jebitok and Nawowuna followed Chebet’s pace.
Chebet pulled away from Nawowuna and Jebitok and ran the final lap in 6:54 to win for the first time in her career in her third appearance at the Elgoibar Cross Country race in 26:08. Jebitok broke away from Nawowuna in the final km to finish runner-up two seconds behind Chebet. Nawowuna took third place in 26:26. Niamh Brown from Great Britain crossed the finish-line in fourth place in 27:55 ahead of her compatriots Sarah Astin (28:06) and Lauren Hall (28:12).
“It was tough as the rain appeared just before the race but I am happy with my Spanish tour as I managed to break a world record and take my first win at such prestigious race”, said Beatrice Chebet.
Spanish middle distance runners Adel Mechaal and Fernando Carro took the lead in the early stages of the men’s 9.71 km race. They covered the first lap of the track in 1:08. Mechaal led at the end of the first km, but he was followed closely by Berihu Aregawi, Carro, Rodrigue Kwizera from Burundi, world and Olympic 3000 metres steeplechase gold medallist Soufiane El Bakkali from Morocco, world under 20 cross country champion Ishmael Kipkirui from Kenya and Abderrahmane Aferdi.
Five athletes were in contention before the leading group completed the first 2.2 km lap: Mechaal, Aregawi, El Bakkali, Kwizera and Kipkirui. Aregawi went to the lead for the first time at halfway. The Ethiopian athlete built a three-second lead on Kwizera, Kipkirui and El Bakkali. Aregawi increased his lead to 70 metres over a chasing quartet at the bell. He covered the final km in 2:50 to cross the finish-line in 30:30. Kwizera pulled away to take second place in 30:34 holding off El Bakkali by two seconds. Kipkirui took fourth place in 30:37 edging Mechaal by one second.
“The course was extremely tough, so I preferred to be cautious. I am planning to compete at the World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade on 30 March before focusing on the Olympic Games”,