Chris Derrick became the first runner since eventual eight-time champion Pat Porter to win three titles in successive years at the USATF Cross Country Championships on the Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder, Colorado, on Saturday (7).
The unseasonably high temperatures - not to mention the fact Boulder stands at 1655 metres above sea-level - made for demanding conditions in a race which doubled up as the trials for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China on 28 March.
However, the conditions next month might not be too far removed from Boulder, as Guiyang stands at nearly 1200 metres above sea-level.
The American men’s team for the 12km in Guiyang will be led by Derrick, 24, who waited until the sixth kilometre before moving to the front.
This breakaway tactic immediately broke the resistance of a good field including in-form Dathan Ritzenhein, and Derrick opened up an unassailable advantage over the second half of the senior men’s 12km race.
Derrick, who finished 10th at the last edition of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz two years ago, didn’t appear unduly fatigued, despite the high temperatures and altitude, as he crossed the line in 36:18.
Bobby Curtis outlasted Ritzenhein for second place, 36:48 to 36:51. The former will be joining Derrick on the team for Guiyang, but Ritzenhein has elected to forego the event to focus on the Boston Marathon on 20 April.
Laura Thweatt claimed her first domestic cross country title on home soil in the women’s 8km.
Buoyed by the dense local support, the Boulder native was challenged by Sara Hall until the sixth kilometre when Thweatt began to establish a gap over Hall, who is making her marathon debut in Los Angeles next month.
In the last two kilometres, Thweatt put more than half-a-minute on the rest of the field and won in 27:42 with Mattie Suver second in 28:13.
Thweatt qualified for her first US team for a major championships at the age of 26.
By contrast, third-placer Jen Rhines, 40, will be returning to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships after a hiatus of 13 years.
Back in 2002, Rhines finished 12th and was the third counter of the USA’s silver medal-winning team.
The men’s and women’s junior races were won by Conner Mantz and Kaitlyn Benner respectively.
Amlosom follows in Tadese’s footsteps in Miajadas
Zersenay Tadese triumphed at the Gran Premio Caceres de Campo a Traves in Miajadas, Spain, 12 months ago, and the men’s senior 10.2km title stayed in Eritrean hands as 2014 African 10,000m champion Nguse Amlosom led a one-two for the East African nation.
In a hotly contested race, Amlosom just beat his compatriot Goitom Kifle right on the line.
The two Eritreans were given an identical time of 28:21 with Dickson Huru, from Uganda, third in 28:30.
Amlosom, who helped Eritrea to team gold at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen last year, was also a winner a fortnight ago in Huesca.
With the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships only six weeks away, recent form suggests he will improve significantly on his 61st place finish from the last edition in 2013.
Alemayehu Bezabeh was the leading Spanish finisher in sixth in 28:57.
In the women’s 7.5km race, Diana Martin won on home soil in 24:16 ahead of Portugal’s long-time race leader Catarina Ribeiro, who was second in 24:19.
Emase outruns Kwemoi to qualify for Kenyan Champs
Peter Emase continued his good form at the North Rift Cross Country Championships in Iten on Saturday as he qualified comfortably for next weekend’s Kenyan Championships.
Emase, who won the Eldoret Discovery Cross Country race over 10km a fortnight ago, took the spoils over 12km this time, coming home ahead of world junior 1500m record-holder Ronald Kwemoi 37:02 to 37:26.
Fresh from winning for her Turkish club at the European Champion Clubs Cup last weekend, Irene Cheptai won the women’s senior 8km in 27:30 ahead of former IAAF world youth 3000m champion Purity Rionoripo, who was second in 27:35.
Former IAAF world junior steeplechase champion Daisy Jepkemei, who is still only 18, defeated a strong field, including IAAF world youth 3000m champion Lilian Kasait, in the junior women’s 6km in 21:37, while the little-known Nicodemus Kipkirui won the junior men’s 8km in 24:26.
At the Central Rift Cross Country Championships in Kapsabet on Friday (6), Emmanuel Bor and Peris Jepchirchir won the senior races with Richard Kimunyan and Gladys Koech winning the junior equivalents.
The top six runners from each race qualified for the Kenyan Championships held in Nairobi at the Uhuru Gardens next weekend where they will represent their respective provinces.
As a sharpener to what will be culmination of the domestic cross country season, some of the qualified runners participated in the Mau-Egerton University Cross Country Championships on Saturday.
In hot conditions, Japanese-based Kenyan William Sitonik won the men’s 12km in 34:40 ahead of renowned track exponent Isiah Koech in 34:50.
“I have come back home to make sure I participate in the national trials because I want to carry the national flag at the World Championships in China,” said Sitonik, who has been based in Kenya for the last three weeks.
In the women’s 8km, Caroline Chepkoech won in 26:07 ahead of Bahraini guest Eunice Chebichi in 26:16.
The 2014 world junior 3000m steeplechase champion Ruth Jebet, who also represents Bahrain, won the junior women’s 6km in 19:55 while Geoffrey Koech, the brother of Kenyan international Philip Langat, won the junior men’s 8km in 22:45.
Steven Mills (with assistance from Kip Evans) for the IAAF