Mattie Suver and Craig Lutz both won their first national titles at the USATF Cross Country Championships staged in Bend, Oregon, on Saturday (6).
Suver finished second to Laura Thweatt 12 months ago when the event was staged in Boulder, Colorado, and the 28-year-old was among the favourites against an admittedly depleted field with most of the country’s leading runners focusing either on the indoor season or next weekend’s US Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles.
Suver, who lowered her 10,000m best to 31:54.43 last summer, made a decisive move with less than two kilometres remaining in the senior women’s 10km and succeeded in dropping Amy Van Alstine, who won this title two years ago when Suver was third.
This time it was Suver’s turn to top the podium, with the pre-race favourite crossing the line in 36:38 with Van Alstine second in 36:45.
Lutz made his attack at roughly the same point on the last lap as Suver and went on to win the senior men’s 10km by an identical margin. The 23-year-old landed his first national title in 31:40 to defeat Aaron Dinzeo by seven seconds.
Cheptai retains European clubs title
Kenya’s Irene Cheptai retained her individual title at the European Champion Clubs Cup Cross Country and led Turkish side Uskudar Belediye to a successful defence of the team title on home soil in Kastamonu on Sunday (7).
Competing on a snow-laden course at 1100m above sea-level, Cheptai comfortably secured the individual victory in the senior women's 6km in 21:13 ahead of club-mate and Turkish international Ozlem Kaya in 21:45.
The Turkish side packed well with four of their counters finishing inside the top six.
Trihas Gebre tried to follow Cheptai in the early stages of the race but the Spaniard, competing for the Bilbao Atletismo team, faded to third in 21:52.
Reigning men’s champion Othmane El Goumri was well beaten into second place by Istanbul BBSK’s Bekir Karayel in the senior men’s 10km, 32:33 to 32:57, but the Moroccan led France’s Ales Cevennes Athletisme to back-to-back titles in the team race.
At the Cross Internacional Ciudad de Valladolid on Sunday, seasoned campaigner Ayad Lamdassem outsprinted Ilias Fifa, who made a breakthrough on the track last summer with a 13:05.61 5000m PB, in the senior men’s 10km.
Lamdassem and Fifa were both credited with the same time of 31:26 with Daniel Mateo third in 31:42.
Alessandra Aguilar, who finished fifth in the marathon at the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013, easily won the senior women’s 7km in 24:31 ahead of veteran team-mate Jacqueline Martin in 24:42.
Jepkemei makes the grade against the seniors
On her racing debut as a senior athlete, Daisy Jepkemei dominated the senior women’s race at the North Rift Cross Country Championships in Iten on Saturday.
Jepkemoi has been one of the standout Kenyan runners at junior level over the past four years with her most noteworthy performance coming at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships when she won the 3000m steeplechase in Barcelona at the age of 16.
She marked her senior debut with a commanding victory over 10km in 35:48 to seal a place at the Kenyan Cross Country Championships, which will be staged on the day of her 20th birthday on 13 February.
Gladys Kipkemboi, a 2009 World Championships 3000m steeplechase finalist and the winner of the inaugural world junior title in that event in 2004, was a distant second in 36:11 with Norah Tanui third in 36:26.
In the senior men’s 10km, Emmanuel Kigen and Matthew Kiptanui took first and second respectively in 30:59 and 31:00 with experienced Kenyan international Hosea Macharinyang third in 31:05.
Former world youth 3000m champion Lilian Kasait dominated the junior women’s 6km in 21:21 while Willy Kwemoi beat Nicholas Kimeli by three seconds in 24:41 in the junior men’s 8km.
Steven Mills (with assistance from Kip Evans) for the IAAF