National Cross Country champion Faith Chepng’etich won the 34rd Cross Internacional de Italica in Seville, Spain on Sunday.
The women’s 8.1km race was a battle between East African rivals Kenya and Ethiopia.
After just 2kms, the Kenyan trio of Chepng’etich, Viola Kibiwot and Irene Cheptai together with the Ethiopian pair of Netsanet Gudeta and Alemitu Heroye detached themselves from the rest of the field. Spain’s Trihas Gebre ran alone some 60m adrift.
It was Gudeta who first lost ground from the main pack. The 2015 World Championships 1,500m silver medallist Chepng’etich then decided to break away at exactly the halfway point and only Kibiwot tried to follow her. But she only lasted for some 800m.
By the bell, the 2011 and 2013 World Junior Cross Country champion had a solid 10-second advantage over Kibiwot, who was herself 12 seconds ahead of Heroye and Cheptai.
Chepng’etich’s relentless pace during the closing lap increased her dominance to 20 seconds by the line, winning in 24:56, as Kibiwot finished second in 25:50. Cheptai shook off Heroye to clinch third place in 25:50 and make it an all-Kenyan women’s podium.
“I’m very satisfied with my victory although the race was tough. I now plan to compete in another cross country race in Italy. I’ll be focused on the cross country this winter and will skip the World indoor Champs,” said Chepng’etich.
The 21-year-old Commonwealth Games 1,500m champion said she plans to go one better at the Olympics after finishing second behind Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba at the World Championships in Beijing in August.
Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola won the men’s 18.8km race in 30:57, beating regular fast-finisher Eritrea’s Teklemariam Medhin and Ugandan Timothy Toroitich to second and third place in 31:09 and 31:12, respectively.
Kenya’s world 3,000m steeplechase silver medallist Conseslus Kipruto finished fifth.