World and Olympic finalist Viola Kibiwot broke the World best at the 4 Mile of Groningen on Sunday (13), while Yenew Alamirew won a competitive men’s race.
Kibiwot successfully defended her title from last year, but went 17 seconds faster than 12 months ago. The 29-year-old did not have it easy though as she was up against fellow Kenyan Emily Chebet, the two-time World cross-country champion.
Both athletes dipped inside the previous World best for the rarely-run event, which was set by Chebet at this event in 2010 with 19:20. Kibiwot won in 19:14 with Chebet clocking 19:17.
Irene Jelagat – who won the World junior 1500m title in 2006, four years after Kibiwot achieved the feat – ensured an all-Kenyan podium. The 24-year-old clocked 19:23.
Further back in fourth, two-time World 1500m champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal ran 19:43. Ethiopian junior Ruti Aga was the only other woman to break 20 minutes, clocking 19:59 in fifth.
The men’s race was even closer. Alamirew, this year’s 5000m Diamond Race winner, came under pressure from Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie and Eritrea’s Abrar Osman, but ultimately the 23-year-old Ethiopian had the edge at the finish.
Back in 2010 Alamirew set a World best of 17:07 at this event, which was bettered one year later by Vincent Yator with 17:06. This year Alamirew’s winning time was notably slower as he won in 17:30.
Osman, the World junior 5000m silver medallist, was given the same time in second place, while Gebrselassie finished third in 17:31.
In fourth, Britain’s Andy Vernon set a European best of 17:37, while World indoor 1500m bronze medallist Mekonnen Gebremedhin was fifth in 17:48.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF