Kenyan runners sweep the podium in Sevilla

Kenyan runners sweep the podium in Sevilla

World 10,000m bronze medallist Agnes Tirop led a Kenyan clean podium sweep on Sunday at the 36th Cross Internacional de Itálica in Santiponce, near the Spanish city of Seville, the fifth leg of this season’s IAAF Cross Country Permit series.

Tirop, the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Champion clocked 25 minutes and 51 seconds ahead of World Under 18 3,000m champion Lilian Kasait Rengeruk who stopped the timer at 26:01. Kasait, the World Cross Under-20 bronze medallist, managed to beat Rio Olympics 5,000m and World champion Hellen Obiri who settled for third place in 26:03.

The start of the women’s 8.265m race was led by the Portuguese pair of 2008 European Cross-Country bronze medallist Ines Monteiro and European Half Marathon champion Sara Moreira. With seven minutes on the clock, Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet took command of the race and barely two minutes later, only the Kenyan trio of Tirop, Obiri and Rengeruk were close to her. Spain’s Trihas Gebre was a lonesome fifth after losing contact with the African contingent always headed by world steeplechase record-holder Jebet.

Five-and-a-half kilometres into the race, Tirop injected a quicker rhythm which was followed only by world 5,000m champion Obiri while – much to the surprise of the spectators – Jebet gradually lost ground and was left with no chances of winning before the closing two-kilometre lap.

Fully aware of Obiri’s track credentials – which include a personal best of 3:57.05 in the 1500m and the 2012 world indoor 3000m title – Tirop pushed hard on the closing lap. With a kilometre and a half left, Tirop had already managed to get rid of Obiri, while third place seemed to be a battle between Rengeruk and Jebet.

While Tirop’s success became beyond doubt, Rengeruk first left Jebet behind to seriously threaten Obiri’s runner-up spot. At the tape, Tirop was a solid winner while Rengeruk pipped a tired Obiri 20 metres before the tape, completing a Kenyan 1-2-3 finish.


“Today’s win makes me very satisfied after my second places in San Giorgio Su Legnano and Elgoibar earlier this month,” said an elated Tirop. “After this European cross-country tour, I’ll now head back home to prepare the Commonwealth Games where I plan to contest the 5000m.”

In the men’s race, London World Championships, 10,000m silver medallist Joshua Cheptegei led compatriot Jacob Kiplimo to make a 1, 2 finish for Uganda. Cheptegei took top podium place in 30:54 while Kiplimo settled for runners-up in position in 30:55, while Selemon Barega of Ethiopia, a World U18 and U20 champion in the 3,000m and 5,000m respectively, took the second runner’s up position in 31:01.

Hellen Obiri wins the Campaccio women's race (PHOTO/IAAF/Giancarlo Colombo)

Elsewhere, in New Mexico, Michael Saruni ran 1:14.79 for 600 in Albuquerque to break Cas Loxsom’s indoor 600 WR of 1:14.91 on Friday 19. Saruni, shed off 0.12 off the world best that was previously held by American Casimir Loxsom.

Saruni’s former UTEP teammate Emmanuel Korir broke the same record on the same track last year (1:14.97) before Loxsom broke it later in the season.

The 22-year-old, who is a student at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), ran a well-judged race, covering the first 200-metre lap in 24.2 before hitting the front just before the 400-metre mark, which was reached in 49.7. With a final lap of 25.2 seconds, Saruni continued to effortlessly pull away from the rest of the field, stopping the clock at 1:14.79.

His time took 0.12 off the world best that was previously held by Casimir Loxsom. The US runner had set the mark in January last year, just one week after Korir recorded a world indoor best of 1:14.97.

LEADING RESULTS (Cross Internacional de Itálica in Santiponce)

Men (11.1km)

1 Joshua Cheptegei (UGA) 30:54

2 Jacob Kiplimo (UGA) 30:55

3 Selemon Barega (ETH) 31:01

4 Abadi Hadis (ETH) 31:01

5 Emmanuel Gniki (TAN) 31:08

6 Ilias Fifa (ESP) 31:39

7 Joel Ayeko (UGA) 31:48

8 Aweke Ayalew (BRN) 31:50

9 Adel Mechaal (ESP) 32:08

10 Rui Pinto (POR) 32:19

Women (8.2km)

1 Agnes Tirop (KEN) 25:51

2 Llilian Rengeruk (KEN) 26:01

3 Hellen Obiri (KEN) 26:03

4 Ruth Jebet (BRN) 26:12

5 Trihas Gebre (ESP) 27:08

6 Nuria Lugueros (ESP) 27:14

7 Muriel Coneo (COL) 27:19

8 Verity Ockenden (GBR) 27:21

9 Carla Salomé Rocha (POR) 27:26

10 Inés Monteiro (POR) 27:38