Alice Aprot wins the women's race at Campaccio (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright
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Aprot decimates opposition in Soria – cross-country round-up

Employing her trademark front-running tactics, Olympic 10,000m fourth-placer Alice Aprot claimed a comprehensive victory over 8km at the 23rd edition of the Campo a Traves Internacional de Soria in the north-central Spanish city on Sunday (20).

Aprot became the third successive Kenyan winner of the women’s senior race in Soria and the 12th in event history, following in the footsteps of prestigious names such as Sally Barsosio (1994), Vivian Cheruiyot (2007), Linet Masai (2009, 2015) and Mercy Cherono (2014).

Aprot covered the 8km course in 26:18 and defeated a solid international field in the process. Uganda’s Juliet Chekwel, who has twice finished inside the top-15 at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, was a distant second in 27:30 with Olympic 1500m finalist Sofia Ennaoui from Poland third in 27:51.

Timothy Toroitich was narrowly outsprinted in Atapuerca last weekend but the Ugandan was back in winning form in Soria where he became the first three-time winner in race history.

Toroitich covered the 10km in 29:10 to defeat Eritrea’s world U20 10,000m silver medallist Aron Kifle - who is eligible for the U20 race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala next March - by ten seconds while his namesake Goitom Kifle (no relation) finished third in 29:44.

Three-time Olympian Alessandra Aguilar also claimed a hat-trick of victories in Toledo at the Cross Nacional Trofeo Espada Toledana over 7km in 24:35 while Antonio Abadia won the men’s 9km in 27:47.

Tiernan upsets Cheserek at the NCAA Championships

Last year’s runner-up Pat Tiernan ended Kenyan Edward Cheserek’s reign at the NCAA Cross Country Championships with victory on a sodden and windswept course in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Saturday (19).

Cheserek was looking to claim an unprecedented fourth successive victory but the University of Oregon standout, who began as the overwhelming favourite, had to settle for a distant third in 29:48 over 10km behind Australian Tiernan (29:22) and Syracuse's Justyn Knight (29:28) from Canada.

“Everybody in the race is on an equal level when you get there, and anybody's beatable at the end of the day,” said Tiernan, who is coached by former three-time world indoor 1500m champion Marcus O’Sullivan at the University of Villanova.

Missouri’s Karissa Schweizer outsprinted two of the pre-race favourites - Michigan’s Erin Finn and Notre Dame’s Anna Rohrer - for victory on the 6km course in 19:42 to win by three seconds while Northern Arizona and Oregon won the men’s and women’s team titles respectively.

World U20 champions defeat the seniors in Allonnes

Aweke Ayalew defeated a world-class field at the opening leg of the IAAF Cross Country Permit Series in Atapuerca last weekend but the Bahraini was humbled by 16-year-old upstart Selemon Barega from Ethiopia at the Cross Le Maine Libre in Allonnes, France, on Sunday. 

Barega, who won the 5000m title at the World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz this summer, covered the 9.39km course in 27:13 to defeat Ayalew by two seconds with Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali third in 27:32.

Beyenu Degefa set a championship record to win the 3000m in Bydgoszcz and the 17-year-old dominated a strong field on her international cross country debut. She won the senior women’s 6.05km in 19:29 ahead of Etagagne Woldu (19:51) and world U20 1500m champion Adanech Anbesa (20:03).   

Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen is in form to sign off her junior career with a successful defence of her junior title at the European Cross Country Championships in Chia, Italy, on 11 December.

Klosterhalfen, who won a bronze medal over 3000m behind Degefa in Bydgoszcz, opened her cross country season with victory in the junior women’s 4.2km in the Darmstadt Cross on Sunday in 14:06 ahead of European junior 3000m and 5000m champion Alina Reh (14:38).

Kenyans took a one-two in the senior men’s 9.1km courtesy of Daniel Kemoi (27:29) and Alex Kibarus (27:53) while Caterina Granz won the senior women’s 6.6km in 23:31 ahead of Julia Bleasdale (23:40), who acquired German citizenship earlier this year.

Jepkosgei prevails in Nyahururu

Joyciline Jepkosgei opened her cross country season with a commanding victory in the senior women’s race at the third leg of the Athletics Kenya Cross Country Series in Nyahururu on Saturday (19).

Jepkosgei, who has lowered her 10km lifetime best to 31:08 this season, claimed victory over the same distance in 33:20 ahead of Beatrice Mutai (33:37) and former world youth 1500m champion Sheila Chepkirui (33:49). 

The men’s senior race was a closer affair with Kenyan international Geoffrey Koech winning in 29:10 ahead of Vincent Rono (29:14) and Franklin Ngelel (29:15).

There was an upset in the junior women’s 6km with former world U20 3000m medallist silver Lilian Kasait - who didn’t make the team for Bydgoszcz this year - returning to form with victory in 19:13 ahead of Sandra Chebet in 19:44.

Chebet, who finished fifth in the 3000m in Bydgoszcz, will be eligible for the U20 race at the World Cross Country Championships in Kampala next March but Kasait will move up into the senior ranks in 2017.

Newcomer Nicholas Chelule won the junior men’s 8km in 23:26.

Steven Mills for the IAAF