San Vittore Olona, Italy - Kenya scored a double win through Thomas Longosiwa and Prisca Jepleting Cherono at the Cinque Mulini in San Vittore Olona, the final 2011/2012 IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting.
Kenya claimed the top four spots in the men’s race with Longosiwa first in 30:04, 12 seconds ahead of Bernard Rotich, second in 30:16, William Kibor, third in 30:26 and Solomon Kirwa Yego, fourth in 30:36.
Jepleting, World bronze medallist in the 5000m in Osaka 2007 and fourth in the 10,000m in Daegu 2011, beat Italian Elena Romagnolo by 16 seconds. Moroccan Btissam Lakouad finished third in 22:03.
Men’s race -
During the first lap a four-man group formed by Longosiwa, Rotich, Kibor and Yego went to the lead with six minutes on the clock. European Cross Country champion Atelaw Bekele from Belgium followed three seconds behind the four leading Kenyans in the chasing group together with 2012 Italian Cross Country champion Gabriele De Nard. During the second lap Rotich took the wrong way and lost some metres but managed to catch up with Longosiwa, Kibor and Yego.
With 13 minutes on the clock Longosiwa and Rotich broke away building up a solid gap on Kibor. The race developed into a neck-to-neck battle between Longosiwa and Rotich who carved out a seven-second gap over Yego.
As in the tradition of the Cinque Mulini the runner wearing the bib number six starts as favourite. Longosiwa, sixth at last year’s World Championships in the 5000m, wore the bib number six and lived up to his status by unleashing his decisive kick shortly before the bell and breaking away from Rotich.
Longosiwa increased his lead in the final lap and romped home in 30:04. The Kenyan confirmed his recent good form one month after clocking a solid 12:58.67 in the 5000m indoor in Düsseldorf.
“It was a good build-up for the summer season where I aim at competing in the 5000 metres at the Olympic Games in London. I ran a very comfortable race today on a very good course,” said Longosiwa.
Gabriele De Nard, who took his second Italian cross country title last January in Borgo Valsugana, ran a good race finishing seventh ahead of 2011 European Cross Country Championships bronze medallist José Rocha from Portugal and Atelaw Bekele from Belgium, continental Cross Country gold medallist in Velenje last December.
Women’s race -
In the early stages of the women’s race Olympic 3000m Steeplechase finalist Romagnolo, Ines Monteiro from Portugal, Jepleting Cherono and Lakouad broke away from the rest of the field building up a solid gap. Romagnolo and Monteiro took the initiative before Jepleting unleashed her attack with seven minutes on the clock.
During the last lap Cherono, who won the World Cross Country silver medal in the short course in 2006, carved out a 17-second gap over Romagnolo who ran a good race after a difficult 2011 season. The Kenyan kept this margin until the end and crossed the finish-line in 21:32.
“I felt in very good shape and the weather conditions were good. I aim at running the 10,000 metres at the Olympic Games in London,” said Cherono.
Romagnolo was also delighted with her second place, the best Italian result in San Vittore Olona since Patrizia Tisi’s second place in 2004.
“I am satisfied because I suffered a hard period. I thank my coach Andrea Bello and my parents for their support. I will try to qualify for the European Championships in Helsinki in the 5000 metres and I will also run some 1500 metres races but I will not run the 3000 metres steeplechase any more,” said Romagnolo.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Leading results from the 80th Cinque Mulini:
Men’s race (10 km):
1 Thomas Longosiwa (Kenya) 30:04
2 Bernard Rotich (Kenya) 30:16
3 William Kibor (Kenya) 30:26
4 Solomon Yego (Kenya) 30:36
5 Liokitok Daudi Makalla (Kenya) 31:21
6 Adibi Bashir (Belgium) 31:21
7 Gabriele De Nard (Italy) 31:26
8 José Rocha (Portugal) 31:59
9 Atelaw Bekele (Belgium) 32 :17
10 Merihun Crespi (Italy) 32 :27
Women’s race (6 km) :
1 Priscah Jepleting Cherono (Kenya) 21:32
2 Elena Romagnolo (Italy) 21:48
3 Btissam Lakouad (Morocco) 22:03
4 Valentina Belotti (Italy) 22:15
5 Ines Monteiro (Portugal) 22:21
6 Federica Dal Ri (Italy) 22:32
7 Angela Rinicella (Italy) 22:51
8 Silvia Weissteiner (Italy) 23:08
9 Lenka Vsetechkova (Czech Republic) 24:05
10 Lada Novakova (Czech Republic) 24:30