From the outset, Kenya’s Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi stamped his authority on this race, charging to the front and pulling the field through the opening kilometre in 2:52.67.
Though the lead changed several times over the course of the next nine kilometres, in the end it finished just as it began, with Chumo leading the field a merry dance, unleashing a 57-second last lap to take the title in a championship record of 27:25.23.
Eritrea’s Aron Kifle was forced to settle for silver in 27:26.20 after making several mid-race surges, while Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo took the bronze in 27:26.68.
On a mild, breezy evening in Bydgoszcz, the 31 athletes set off at a swift early pace, but it was not quite fast enough to split the group to any great extent. Chumo led through 2000m in 5:40.29, alternating the lead several times with teammate Ronald Kiprotich Kirui.
Approaching the 3000m mark, reached in 8:24.63, Kifle surged to the front and began to take a group of eight athletes clear with a 2:44 kilometre.
However, Chumo soon responded in kind, surging back to the front and running a 2:39.33 kilometre to take a group of four clear.
Halfway was reached in 13:48.18, but with the pace cranking up all the time, it was clear that the championship record of 27:30.85, run in the same stadium by Josphat Bett Kipkoech back in 2008, was about to come under threat.
Kifle and Chumo traded blows at the front over the kilometres that followed, trading steady laps of 68 seconds with laps as quick as 63. As they reached 8000m in 22:03.45, Chumo held the lead ahead of Kifle, with Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo looming as an ominous threat in their slipstream.
With just under five laps to run, Kiplimo surged to the lead for the first time, but his move did nothing to hurt Chumo or Kifle, the Kenyan soon surging back to the front.
With 400m to run, Chumo still held the lead and took several glances behind him as he moved through the gears on the back straight in an effort to drop the two athletes behind. The first to crack was Kiplimo, who could offer nothing more on the final turn, leaving Kifle as the only one who could stop Kenya taking this title for the eighth time in the history of the championships and the first time since 2010.
Kifle surged up to Chumo’s shoulder on the final turn, but the moment he did Chumo found an extra gear and moved clear to take the title in 27:25.23.
“I came here expecting to win,” said Chumo. “I took the race out fast because I felt that would give me the best chance. Once we were on the last lap, I knew I would take it.”
Kifle set an Eritrean U20 record of 27:26.20 in second, while Kiplimo had a PB of 27:26.68 to console himself with after finishing third. Ethiopia’s Amedework Walelegn ran a PB of 28:00.14 to finish fourth ahead of countryman Gizachew Hailu, who also set a lifetime best in fifth with 28:09.57.
Ronald Kiprotich Kirui faded out of contention in the final kilometres and finished sixth in 28:13.43.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF