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World XC Women — Perfect Score For Kenya

World XC Women — Perfect Score For Kenya

Defending champ Beatrice Chebet and two of her mates broke away in the later stages as Kenya put up a perfect 10-point tally. (MIKE SCOTT)

BELGRADE, SERBIA, March 30 — The Kenyan women put on a monstrous display of dominance here, grabbing the first 5 places as they defended their title with the lowest score possible in a 4-athlete tally, 10 points. The five Kenyans ran up front from the very start, daring the rest of the world to come and get them. Three tried, but none succeeded in staying with the torrid Kenyan pace. Ethiopia would finish far back with 41 points, Uganda in 3rd at 44.

Running the same 10,025m course that the men would, the Kenyans ran together for the first loop, then entertained some company on the second. Former Kenyan Daisy Jepkemei, running for Kazakhstan, shot into the lead briefly before being put back in her place. Both Uganda’s Joy Cheptoyek and American Weini Kelati tried to stick with the pack, Kelati holding on until the final loop before fading.

It wasn’t until the bell that the Kenyans decided to race each other and the lead pack started stringing out, with no one else in a position to threaten the Kenyan sweep.

Defending champion Beatrice Chebet didn’t feel the need to make her move until the final 400. The Budapest 5000 bronze medalist produced a blazing 6:42 for the final lap-plus to take the win in 31:05. Lilian Rengeruk crossed 2nd in 31:08 with Margaret Kipkemboi, the Eugene 10K bronze medalist, 3rd in 31:09. Emmaculate Anyango, No. 2 all-time in 10K road running with her 28:57, rounded out the scoring with a 31:24 in 4th. Kenyan champion Agnes Ngetich, the 10K road WR holder, didn’t score in 5th, but still beat the rest of the world with her 31:27. The best of the rest of the world was Uganda’s Sarah Chelangat in 6th at 32:00.

Chebet said, “We won the team title, that showed very strong teamwork. After trials we trained together, we eat the same food. We were a team and being together helped us achieve the best result here.” It was the best team finish since the Kenyans took 1-6 in ’17. Kenya now has 14 wins in the history of the championships, with rival Ethiopia at 12.

“It is not easy to come to a world championship and defend your title,” continued Chebet. “There is a lot of pressure. My target was to be on the podium. I felt I was stronger with about 500m to go. The course was so good, the weather was good like in Kenya, very sunny, and the obstacles were not as hard.”

Kelati…

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