Kenya dominated the 36th edition of the International Cross Country race Trofeo Alsport in Alà dei Sardi, a small village in Sardinia, on Sunday (25).
John Kipkoech, the 2010 World Junior silver medallist in the 5000 metres in Moncton, and Prisca Jepleting Cherono, World silver medallist in the 5000m in Osaka 2007 and fourth in the 10,000m in Daegu, took the honours in close races.
The Alà dei Sardi lived up to its tradition once again and featured star-studded fields at the end of a long Cross Country season. Kipkoech won a hard-fought men’s 11 km race in 32:11 holding off his compatriot, World Cross Country silver medallist Paul Tanui. Thomas Longosiwa, World Championships sixth placer in the 5000m in Daegu and winner last week at the Cinque Mulini IAAF Cross Country Permit race, completed the Kenyan sweep in third place in 32:52. Kenya claimed the top-seven spots in the men’s race. Jaitus Birech Kipchoge surprisingly beat Asbel Kiprop, World and Olympic 1500m champion and winner in the 3 km short course race in Edinburgh last January, who had to settle with fifth place after running in the leading group until halfway.
Italian 5000m champion Stefano La Rosa caught up with European 10,000m bronze medallist Daniele Meucci and finished as first Italian in ninth place in 34:03.
Jepleting, winner last week at the Cinque Mulini, led for most of the race and managed to hold on in first place but had to hold off from the final attack launched by 22-year-old Gedo Sule Utura, World Junior champion in the 5000m in 2008. Cherono beat Utura by just one second in 17:56. Kenyan Pauline Koriwwiang, 2006 World Junior Cross Country champion, finished a distant third in 18:12, two seconds ahead of twice 1500m World champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal from Bahrain.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Leading results from the Trofeo Alasport in Alà dei Sardi:
Men’s race (11 km) -
1. John Kipkoech (Kenya) 32:11
2. Paul Tanui (Kenya) 32:14
3. Thomas Longosiwa (Kenya) 32:52
4. Jaitus Kipchoge Birech (Kenya) 33:04
5. Asbel Kiprop (Kenya) 33:30
6. William Kibor (Kenya) 33:39
7. Hillary Kiprono Bii (Kenya) 34:01
8. Stefano La Rosa (Italy) 34:03
9. Daniele Meucci (Italy) 34:16
10. Ihoussaine Oukhrid (Morocco) 34:24
Women’s race (5.5 km) -
1. Priscah Jepleting Cherono (Kenya) 17:56
2. Gedo Sule Utura (Ethiopia) 17:57
3. Pauline Korikwiang (Kenya) 18:12
4. Maryam Yusuf Jamal (Barhein) 18:14
5. Valentina Belotti (Italy) 19:10
6. Claudia Pinna (Italy) 19:17
7. Valeria Roffino (Italy) 19:27
8. Federica Dal Rì (Italy) 19:30
9. Claudette Mukasakindi (Rwanda) 19:47
10. Laila Soufyane (Italy) 19:59