BRIGHT START

Obiri leads Kenyan sweep at Elgoibar cross country

Obiri was timed at 7:00 minutes for the first long lap and was never headed by Chebet who ran close to her illustrious compatriot but never surpassed her.

In Summary

•Obiri led a Kenyan 1-2-3 sweep of the podium positions clocking 25:10 with world U-20 cross-country champion, Beatrice Chebet second in 25:16 and Eva Cherono third in 25:48.

•Obiri became the first woman to achieve back-to-back wins in Elgoibar since the contest became an international event in the early 90s.

World 5000m champion Helen Obiri winning at Elgoibar cross country on Sunday
World 5000m champion Helen Obiri winning at Elgoibar cross country on Sunday
Image: Courtesy

World 5,000m champion Helen Obiri cruised to victory in 7th edition of the Juan Muguerza International cross country meeting in the Spanish town of Elgoibar on Sunday.

Obiri led a Kenyan 1-2-3 podium sweep after clocking 25:10 in the fifth leg of the current World Athletics Cross Country Permit series. World U-20 cross-country champion, Beatrice Chebet was placed second in 25:16 while Eva Cherono completed the podium in  25:48.

Obiri became the first woman to achieve back-to-back wins in Elgoibar since the contest became an international event in the early 90's.

The women’s 7.6km event started at a moderate pace (1:17 minutes)  for the opening 400m on the track) with Obiri taking charge and compatriots Chebet, Eva Cherono and Bahrain’s Rose Chelimo tucked behind.

Of those, 2017 world champion Chelimo was the first casualty as she couldn’t keep with the Kenyans’ pace after the first six minutes. Obiri was timed at 7 minutes for the first long lap and was never headed by Chebet who ran close to her illustrious compatriot but never surpassed her.

Cherono lost ground during the penultimate lap, which Obiri and Chebet covered in a quicker 6:50 minutes. At the bell, Cherono trailed the lead duo by nine seconds while Chelimo was a further 50 seconds adrift. The key move came with about 1.5km remaining when Obiri easily broke away from her 19-year-old compatriot to retain her title.

Chelimo was fourth in 26:40, five seconds ahead of Spain’s Irene Sánchez-Escribano, the first European finisher.

“I expected to win again this year so I’m very satisfied,” said Obiri, whose next outing will be at next Sunday’s Cross Country Permit in Seville— the Cross Internacional de Itálica.

“I’ll train hard and will be ready for the Olympics but I have to see how the season and my training develops before deciding whether I try to double (5000m/10,000m) there or I focus on a sole event.”

In the men's category Richard Yator was the highest placed Kenyan finishing a credible second in 32:03 . Ethiopia's Tadese Worku clinched the event in 31:39 with Eritrea's Aron Kifle third in 32:06.