World Cross Country Championships bronze medallist, Linet Masai, bagged a largely expected and comfortable 13-second win ahead of her compatriot, world 5,000 metres silver medallist, Vivian Cheruiyot, at Spain’s Amorebieta Cross Country meet as Kenya’s countdown to the world championships in March gathered pace.
Linet’s brother Moses Masai finished second behind Eritrea’s Samuel Tsegay in the men’s 10.7km race at the same meeting.
The 6.7km women’s contest promised to be a Kenyan party thanks to the presence of the rising star Masai and Cheruiyot, a double winner (2007 and 2008) in Amorebieta, venue of the 1993 World Cross Country Championships, but the 19-year-old Masai, a former world junior cross country champion, proved to be too strong for the Osaka World Championships silver medallist.
With barely one minute and 45 seconds on the clock, Masai, still unbeaten on this winter campaign, went to the front to open a 15-metre advantage by the 2,000m point (6:30) over her fellow Kenyan, herself 100m ahead of a chasing group comprising the last European Cross Country silver medallists in the guise of Portugal’s Ines Monteiro (2008) and Spain’s Rosa Morató (2007), the latter having finished fifth in Brussels last month at the European Cross Country Championships.
“Today has been quite a cold day but I felt fine during the race. I like running at the front to be the in control of the race. My next outing will be next Saturday in Edinburgh,” confirmed the Kenyan teenager.
For much of the race, Masai’s margin on Cheruiyot did not exceed four seconds but the latter could not join her younger compatriot at any moment.
The second lap (4,000m point) was covered in majestic style by the long-legged Masai in 6:27 with the threatening shadow of Cheruiyot some 20 metres adrift.
The key movement came in the third loop when the reigning world junior 10,000m record holder Masai (30:26.50 for fourth at the Beijing Olympics) injected an even briskier pace which couldn’t be matched.