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ELGOIBAR, Spain, January 10 – Kenyans Nicholas Kimeli and Edinah Jebitok claimed victories at the 78th Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza, a golden reunion of the World Athletics Cross Country Tour, in the Spanish town of Elgoibar on Sunday.

Both races were held in continuous pouring rain, with the women’s event starting at a moderate pace.

The first lap on the track was timed at 1:13, with Ugandan U20 5000m bronze medalist Prisca Chesang making the most of the rhythm tasks, closely followed by the rest of the favorites.

With seven minutes on the clock, there were only four women left in the leading group, with Chesang joined by the Kenyan pair of Beatrice Chebet and Jebitok, as well as the Ethiopian Senbere Teferi, but the latter fell in a muddy descent and lost contact with the top three. .

Shortly after, 1,500m Olympian Jebitok picked up the pace to take a two-second lead over Chebet and Chesang after a 7:13, 2.1 km loop. Surprisingly, Kenya’s 3000m steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech has never been a postman and has traveled far from the leaders.

Some 13 minutes after the start of the race, Jebitok made a decisive rise in power with a 3.15 kilometer, which created a significant margin over his pursuers. After a frantic 7:00 am home run, the 20-year-old Kenyan was 10 seconds ahead of Chebet, while Chesang was 21 seconds behind.

Jebitok extended his advantage on the closing circuit to secure a clear victory over Chebet, with a 15-second gap between the two at the finish line. Chesang, 18, held Teferi at bay to finish a quality top 3, 15 seconds behind Chebet but 11 seconds ahead of the Ethiopian.

Chepkoech finished eighth, around 1:36 behind the winner, while Britain’s Kate Holt was the first European athlete to move to ninth, just ahead of compatriot Alexandra Millard.

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An ecstatic Jebitok said: “The conditions were tough, but I couldn’t be happier with my victory. I have already won at Venta de Banos and I ran 30:44 to finish second in Madrid, so I am extremely happy with my performance this season.

– Kimeli wins over Yihune

The men’s 10.8km race started with Spain’s Adel Mechaal, European indoor bronze medalist in the 3000m, leading the way. He was closely followed by Ugandan teenager Rodgers Kibet and the rest of the favorites including Ethiopian Campaccio winner Addisu Yihune and fourth from Kenya in the 5000m Tokyo Kimeli.

Kibet took the lead after the second mile and started pushing hard, his steady pace followed only by Yihune, Kimeli, Ethiopian Getnet Wale and Kenyan Amos Serem.

After successive laps of 6:40 am and 6:39 am, first Serem then Wale lost ground and the race became a three-way battle between leader Kibet, Yihune and Kimeli, who reportedly had slight back pain the day before the race. .

Kibet’s relentless pace led to a penultimate 6:35 am home run and the three African aces almost tied for the bell, much to the delight of the assembled savvy crowd.

About two minutes into the last lap, 16-year-old Kibet started to falter as Yihune found another speed.

The last mile was thrilling as the Ethiopian widened a two second gap to Kimeli in the most difficult part of the course and he looked like a sure bet for the win, but a brave Kimeli eventually managed to catch Yihune and released a lethal shift in the final 200 yards to come home unopposed in 33:47 after a frenzied 6:21 final lap.

Yihune ran the final 100 meters to finish second, six seconds behind Kimeli, while Kibet was third, 12 seconds behind the Ethiopian. In the fight for fourth place, Mechaal unleashed a discolored Wale to receive standing applause from the crowd.

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Kimeli, 23, who was racing on Spanish soil for the first time, said: “Today’s race was one of my most difficult races due to the mud and the high-caliber terrain.

“At the Tokyo Olympics I just missed a medal, but I’m determined to win a medal at the World Championships in Eugene or the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The rising 5000m star based in Eldoret added: “I am now going back to Kenya to continue my training for the Diamond League meetings this summer. ”